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Crowdsourcing Speeds Evolution of 3D Printable Objects

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ok-print-me-a-glock dept.

Open Source 35

First time accepted submitter JimmyQS writes "The Cornell Creative Machines Lab, which brought us chatbots debating God and unicorns, has developed, a site using evolutionary algorithms and crowdsourcing to design objects that can be 3D printed in materials such as silver, steel or silicone. MIT's Technology Review says 'The rules EndlessForms uses to generate objects and their variants resemble those of developmental biology — the study of how DNA instructions unfold to create an entire living organism. [The Media Lab's Mediated Matter research group director Neri Oxman notes] that this could ultimately have an impact on design similar to the impact that blogs and social media have had on journalism, opening the field to the general public.' The New Scientist has a quick video tour."

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Shitcock (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37500788)

Why does Slashdot suck the wet boner of a Floridian elder?

Headline buzzword overload.... (2, Insightful)

mat catastrophe (105256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500840)

When you write a headline and you're trying to be "hip" by using "buzzwords", please try to put them in the order in which they are actually relevant to what's going on.

I had to read this one twice to figure out it wasn't about "crowdsourcing", or "evolution", but rather about the fact that "3-D Printable Objects are Evolving faster thanks to Crowdsourcing". /pedant

Re:Headline buzzword overload.... (1)

instagib (879544) | more than 2 years ago | (#37501484)

When there is no Apple nor BitCoin story, 3D Printing comes to the rescue. But /. editors should have learned that instead we need more stories with female scientists who discuss Mechanical Stimulation (TM).

Boring (2)

duk242 (1412949) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500854)

I went to the website, there was a bunch of boring 3D objects that could have been made by a 3 year old... Even the Thingiverse [] is way more interesting and useful than that site.

Re:Boring (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37500886)

No kidding - and crowdsourcing design work is just idiotic - literally - hiring idiots with too much free time at pennys a day or less to design things that are suppose to (from the look of most of those on the site) be plugged into 110/220VAC - printed out of silicone?! Good luck with that you crazy fuckers.

Re:Boring (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500956)

Typewriters and monkeys come to mind, heh.

Re:Boring (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37501408)

The whole "3D printing" fad is boring and pathetic. In a couple of years, CB and 8 tracks will find new friends in the back of their closets, as "3D printers" get stored en masse. Bre Pettis will laugh his tiny little self to sleep counting his millions.

Re:Boring (an alternative idea) (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37504458)

For another alternative, check out my comment here:
"PlantStudio Evolutionary 3D Software" []

For information about software my wife and I wrote for breeding 3D plants (about fifteen years ago): [] [] []

And now breeding music: [] []

For the plants, we tried to use rules similar to what nature uses for most plants. The music one is more random and could be a lot better.

So, yes, they could make this a lot better. In general, what such a tool needs is support for a parameterizable model, where the parameters can be bred, and eventually the models themselves can be bred.

But with that said, I agree with all the hype that this is a big part of the future of 3D. We got lots of positive feedback about PlantStudio. We just ran out of money to keep developing it back then, and had to work for years at places like IBM Research on unrelated stuff to repay living expenses debt we incurred while writing it and related software (an educational garden simulator) and then got distracted with various life events and other projects.

Anyway, I wish the Cornell people the best of luck as long as the system is free and open source. And if it is not open source (I don't know) they should read this: :-) [] []

Faster than light particles reported at CERN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37500920)

It's quite interesting. Quite possibly qualifies as "news for nerds" and even "stuff that matters".

What the hell is wrong with the stories on this site? This place used to be inhabited by scientists and engineers. Now even morons like me can get modded up from anon.

Re:Faster than light particles reported at CERN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37502508)

Yeah, let's read the opinions that are shat out by the +2 moderated posters. Write lots of bland truisms that other +2 idiots will mod up. This site is a fucking disgrace, infested by the stupid cunts that bravely mod down AC posts to -1.

zoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37500930)

Perhaps they can print themselves a new server, now ^_^

Your evolved critters just got hit with a comet. (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500946)

Slashdotting, your evolutionary algorithm site == an Extinction Level Event.

Illegal behavior. (0)

el_jake (22335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37500996)

This is hilarious. Thank god it is considered illegal in writing to force a person to accept a contract denying them to sue in case of conflict or other situation where legal actions are necessary . Now we can sue them for illegal EULA's.....

Re:Illegal behavior. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37501010)

I think you missed...

Genomes, so objects look natural? (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#37501034)

I think this is crap. Objects look natural only because WE select objects that look interesting of resemble something we know, so by human selection, not natural selection, "strange" objects don't get evolved any further. That's all there is to the natural look of some of the objects.

Re:Genomes, so objects look natural? (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37502736)

You imply that human selection is not natural. Why?

Re:Genomes, so objects look natural? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37503170)

Obviously you don't know in real life he is a dog.

Re:Genomes, so objects look natural? (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#37503862)

Hmm. You have a point.

What the article pointed out was "we use genomes, so the objects look natural".
If you played with it, you'll see there are "strange" objects, but in the end we submit only the ones that "resemble something".
And on top of that, we have to name the objects "bee, horse",
And on top of THAT, we tend to see things that are not there (Rorschach blots, "Jezus toast").

So to call things "natural because we use genomes"...

It's only mostly crap. (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37503876)

Well yes and no. While you're entirely right that if the genome were randomly based it would still perhaps end up with things that look like human things because humans select them to look like those things, but it would have a harder time getting there. The real kicker for genome based growing like this as described originally in some of Richard Dawkins books is that that variation can such that the forms it creates and the similar but different forms are restricted such that it'll generally cover the design space for most living critters but not other things. For example, without ever seeing the thing, it's likely impossible to evolve a cork screw, but you could certainly make a very charming bowl. Some forms, due to this method, are seriously restricted and other forms are generally able to be stepped towards and the directions you go are limited by generally by natural growth patters. So you can get to natural patterns much more simply than you could with truly random modifications, but it is still humans selecting to get there so we obvious pick the forms we like the best.

We also select the dogs we like the best too, but we somehow can't select for dogs which have chansaws for arms. Doing things like this, generally gets you a next step which tend to fall into more natural patterns. It's not really that it makes the objects look natural, but hampers the EndlessForms into be a discrete set of forms which transverses a lot of natural looking objects.

Re:It's only mostly crap. (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#37504144)

ok. interesting.
Let me try to break this down. There is the genome part and the selection / evolution part.

The selection / evolution part. Let's assume Darwin is right and natural selection follows the rules of survival of the fittest. In EndlessForms it's human selection and the definition of "fittest" will probably boil down to something like "shapes we like to use for the next generation" or probably even to "shapes that resemble something we recognize as something we know".
The genome part doesn't really play a role here. It could just as well have been any random process, but genomes are fancy ;)

Suppose the underlying mutation mechanism was random and not genome based, in my opinion the end result will be more or less the same. Natural looking objects. Because we're biased toward selecting things that look like "something" and because we make the selection.

Not quite. (1)

Tatarize (682683) | about 3 years ago | (#37505516)

First off, it doesn't require an assumption. Darwin was right, and the underlying algorithm works perfectly fine.

The problem is that random tweaking tends to require that there be a genotype, some underlying data that you change slightly. Unless the shape itself is the genome and then tweaking it, is tweaking it. You could, in theory, just pick a random shape and modify that shape specifically in predefined ways and get to any shape possible. The thing about genomes is that they can only code for some specific albeit limited things. You could in fact, look through every genome possible and not find some specific shape. It may well be impossible, to express that phenotype with any available genotype.

Expressing a genome in the same general growth expressive patterns of development will often hamper the range of possible shapes. But, a lot of those shapes you're limited to will be largely more natural looking. Take the notion of symmetry. Humans and most all animals are very symmetric and pretty much everything from Bilatera on has this quality and it's expressed rather clearly in the growth patterns of most animals. How many shapes are there though that are largely non-symmetric. And it turns out (given some limited space) there are hugely more asymmetric shapes than symmetric ones. But, how many of these shapes find themselves in the EndlessForms program? Very few. So while you can likely find twenty ways to get to a Tie Fighter or Butterfly, there's going to be about 0 ways to evolve a corkscrew.

But, yes, you'd have human selectors end up making a truly extensible forms look like a bunch of stuff humans know, but it wouldn't be hugely restricted to the natural looking stuff. Because frankly you'll have more things possible that look like a face in carbonite than a comb.

Re:Not quite. (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about 3 years ago | (#37506908)

Ok. I was thinking about "looks like nothing" vs "looks natural", but you're right, there is also "looks artificial".

Even though a corkscrew is not likely to evolve from in EndlessForms, I've seen bottles and lamps and you even suggest Tie Fighters.

But taking the concept of genes one step further, if you look at a genome as something that encodes something, in the computer world, you inevitably end up with bytes.
It looks like EndlessForms is working with "genes" that operate as geometrical boolean operators. If you have enough of them, with enough mutations you could even end up with a cork screw. You can model a cork screw in Maya and you could call en geometrical parts of the cork screw "genes" and you could also come up with a mutation algorithm to mutate that geometry. But in the end it's the human selection and not the underlying "genome model" that results in the the selection of objects that look like "something" and not like "nothing".

phallic shapes (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37501140)

Any bets on how long it will take for them all to evolve into giant penises? It's only a matter of time.

Re:phallic shapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37501216)

Dragon dildos

Also related:

Re:phallic shapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37501414)

Are you saying that because of open source? Dildos are often the first thing to come to mind when I think of open source.

Re:phallic shapes (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 3 years ago | (#37505704)

They are already there.

3D Shapes from 30 years Ago... (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37501240)

What is shown in the article looks like the basic elements from the first 3D packages on the PC 3 decades back.

Any multi-piece design today needs explicit, exact shape and size control if you are going to have function and fit required for produceable & usable assemblies today.

Use Existing Models (1)

moorster (2093072) | more than 2 years ago | (#37501672)

I don't quite understand why we need crowdsourcing to come up with 3D printable models. Can't we take the 1000's of existing 3D models currently used in CAD programs and video games and convert them into a format that can be printed?

Re:Use Existing Models (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37501754)

No, we can't, because they are copyrighted.

Re:Use Existing Models (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37502454)

Here in the USA *everything* is copyrighted by default. Its all about the terms.. Many would be freely usable.

Copyright by itself does not restrict use.

Fixed it (2)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37503122)

Crowdsourcing accelerates evolution of 3D printable objects by leveraging the synergy of cloud computing resulting in a substantial paradigm shift in cost effective design.

PlantStudio Evolutionary 3D Software (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37504222)

We did this 15 years ago: []

The approach and interface has a lot of similarities.

An open source version (in Python): []

Recent musical version: :-) []

Re:PlantStudio Evolutionary 3D Software (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37504304)

I should add:

* Richard Dawkins did it first in a popular way (there were others even before) with software related to his book "The Blind Watchmaker": []

That book was one thing that inspired us, even as my wife and I met around an Ecology and Evolution program and so were interested in these themes already.

* Also, if the Cornell group was hiring, we'd be interested in helping improve the software. :-)

Further, for someone with a lot more money or a lot more guts than we do, with the evolutionary music ideas in the EvoJazz software ( [] ), someone could probably use the same idea to help end RIAA's stranglehold on the musical world by crowdsourcing the recreation of all interesting musical snippet evolutionarily. I've thought about it over the last year or two, but I don't have the financial/emotional resources to do that, as the legal issues could mean years and years of litigation probably as people collaboratively claim to have reinvented every tune in the world by evolutionary methods and RIAA tries to prove it was somehow copied when you can clearly show the evolutionary tree.

Build an extension to print minecraft objects. (1)

Commontwist (2452418) | about 3 years ago | (#37505770)

Offer users the ability to print their favorite hotel/castle/maze for permanent display.

Some designs are quite neat and can often get vaped by server deaths/map corruption.

Some people should get out more (1)

Zargs (1324433) | about 3 years ago | (#37506814)

This is great if watching paint dry no longer excites you...
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