Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Swarmbots Are Coming

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the make-room-make-room dept.

Biotech 176

Roland Piquepaille writes "For its latest issue, Wired Magazine asked several experts to tell us how the convergence between technology and biology was transforming their respective fields, from transportation to art, and even redefining life as we know it. In this special report, Living Machines, you'll discover that the nonliving world is very much alive. This summary is focused on one of the seven articles, which talks about ant algorithms and swarmbots. "Typically, a swarm bot is a collection of simple robots (s-bots) that self-organize according to algorithms inspired by the bridge-building and task-allocation activities of ants." And ant algorithms are used today to solve human problems especially in distribution and logistics."

cancel ×

176 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

MWHUAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! (-1, Troll)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182539)

This is the post that is first!

Re:MWHUAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182628)

Support the First Amendment: Read at -1

The only thing I'd support by reading at -1 is the First Post. A right not exactly worth fighting for...

The swarm of FAILBOTS is coming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182675)

"Sour grapes" said the fox. -- Aesop

fp!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182548)

fp!!!!

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182719)

You will go down in the history books as a disgusting dork loser, because YOU FAIL IT!

BLAH (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182551)

FP and this article sucks so there. kthxby

yeah yeah .... (4, Funny)

jiffah (685832) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182554)

and we all eventually become batteries after we scorch the sky...

Re:yeah yeah .... (1, Funny)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182626)

Well, I feel safe for now, as long as they're just doing ant algorithms.

It's when they start algoritms for big, muscular Austrian men with deep accents [imdb.com] that I'll be scared.

Very scared.

Re:yeah yeah .... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182631)

that was so stupid.
Neo made it high enough to see blue sky and sun.
why can't the stupiud bots just build a stupid tower up a few thousand feet with a stupid microwave reciever, and launch a stupid satellite to collect solar power and beam it by mircowave to the tower which then transmists it by cable to the ground? Huh? Stupid machines.

Re:yeah yeah .... (1)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182861)

And why did they use humans? Why not breed cattle or some other beast, and kill all the humans?

Re:yeah yeah .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182920)

Irony.

Re:yeah yeah .... (1, Interesting)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182965)

> And why did they use humans? Why not breed cattle or some other beast, and kill all the humans?

Because they are smart enough to know they may have missed some key element in their own design (ie: an evolutionary dead end) and that some day in the far future they may need humans for some unforseen circumstance.
It's all about genetic diversity, baby.
Same reason we want to save the rainforest now.
Let's hope the machines do a better job saving us than we did with the rainforest.

More trivia from the elitist academics: +1, Fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8183018)

known as

The Santa Fe Institute [santafe.edu]

This is not news.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Regards,
Kilgore

Thanks for the warning... (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182561)

Paul Revere couldn't have said it any better.

Re:Thanks for the warning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182916)

Well yes, he could have. Longfellow's poem was somewhat inaccurate.

A good intro to AI... (5, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182562)

...including ant algorithms, simulated annealing, and fuzzy logic is M. Tim Jones' AI Application Programming [charlesriver.com] .

The examples are especially helpful; they're written in nice portable C. I've been working on a little project to translate them to Ruby [ruby-lang.org] ; porting notes and Gnuplot charts and such are here [rubyforge.org] and the code for the Ant Algorithm translation is here [rubyforge.org] .

Re:A good intro to AI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182613)

Dude, Perl if you are old skool, Python if you're new.

Get with the program.

Re:A good intro to AI... (1)

Charvak (97898) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182681)

Lisp if you are old skool. I think LISP is the most beautiful language designed

*** BAD PUN ALERT *** (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182564)

Swarmbots really byte.

Re:*** BAD PUN ALERT *** (3, Funny)

Metryq (716104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182606)

I knew a myrmecologist in school. Everytime I saw him I'd ask, "how's your aunt?"

I for one... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182568)

...welcome our new swarm overlords.

Re:I for one... (1, Redundant)

SkArcher (676201) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182635)

...welcome our new swarm overlords.

Yes, very funny.

How about "In Soviet Russia the swarmbots are YOU!

Oh wait, thats a little to close to true...

Idiots! Both of you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182718)

It's even more funny because he doesn't realize that Kent Brockam was actually welcoming "our giant ant" overlords. It was the Simpsons episode where Homer gets sent into space on the Shuttle by NASA.

"Horay for inanimate carbon rod!"

Re:I for one... (1)

IrishMist (748521) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182929)

Shurely..

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things!?

REPENT!!!! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182575)

for the assbots are cumming!!!

linux people ... PLEASE for the love of juses, call your machines BOXEN only!!! Not box, computer,server.....Only BOXEN! This will insure mainstreamability!!!!

Godel, Escher, and Bach (2, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182577)

Also - here is a brick. What did the house look like?

Internet, Linux, Groklaw!

Ant people!

Re:Godel, Escher, and Bach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182685)

Ah, GEB: EGB was a rather good book.

And I'd have to say that the house looked rather brickish.

Ever read "Prey" (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182578)

It's a work of science fiction by Michael Criton (sp?) about this very thing.

Re:Ever read "Prey" (1)

loserbert (697119) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182683)

So we should stock up on our buckets of brown poopy goo now?

Re:Ever read "Prey" (1)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182694)

No, but it happens to be the book I'm going to read after I finish "Hellstrom's Hive" - which coincidentally is about a human society modelled after insects. It is written by Frank Herbert (most famous for his "Dune" works) and I really recommend it.

Re:Ever read "Prey" (1)

spacecowboy420 (450426) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182885)

Why didn't Ricky and Julia just give it to them in their sleep? Why wait for them to wake up? Just forego the drama and get on with ruling the world. And where was Mae the whole time he was wondering where she was - then *poof* here she is...And let's not forget how Mike just skipped the kids reaction about their mom. Great book, until the end - I swear I read it cover to cover in two sittings.

Non-news (4, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182583)

you'll discover that the nonliving world is very much alive

We all know that. [freebsd.org]

Donald Duck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182587)

Donald Duck is going to have a SCREAMING ORGASM with one of these swarms of bots! They turn him on so much!

Ant reference (5, Informative)

IchBinDasWalross (720916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182591)

Mute Filesharing [sourceforge.net] is one of the projects talking about ant technology, with a pretty thorough description [sourceforge.net] of how they use AntTech.

lasers (3, Funny)

bucklesl (73547) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182595)

Cool, I'll finally be able to get an ant with a laser without cheating. The spiders better watch out!

So erm.. (1)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182599)

bringing Prey in the picture here to demonstrate this technology is rather non-scientific ?

Imagine... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182603)

...a Beowulf cluster of swarmbots could really fuck up a picnic all while processing an assload of seti@home workunits.

and .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182830)

devouring the picnickers!

Re:Imagine... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8183000)

...a Beowulf cluster of swarmbots

I'm not trolling...honest, but could that be considered redundant? :-)

startling conclusion? (3, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182623)

Life isn't the exception, but the rule.

All you have to do is look at all the weeds that grow through the cracks in the sidewalk to come to that conclusion :-)

Re:startling conclusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182667)

All you have to do is look at all the weeds that grow through the cracks in the sidewalk

That's the cleverest growroom idea I've seen in a long time: you can have weed and crack at the same time. Very nice idea :)

Could we use ant algorithms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182645)

...to sort tiny screws in space?

Inanimate carbon rod in '04!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182749)

THANK YOU!

Finally somebody got the reference RIGHT. Unlike these jugheads. [slashdot.org]

It goes to show you (4, Interesting)

ill_mango (686617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182649)

How computers can work together better than humans.

Human nature makes us think of the individual before society as a whole. We could probably accomplish a whole lot more if we were all mindless drones, doing what had to be done to finish our jobs.

Of course there would be no fun in that, so luckily we have swarmbots.

I am interested to see the applications of these bad boys in the future.

Re:It goes to show you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182758)

[C]omputers can work together better than humans. ...
I am interested to see the applications of these bad boys in the future.


Wow. Does anyone else think that this, like, totally missed the point [unca.edu] ?

Re:It goes to show you (4, Insightful)

bloxnet (637785) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182767)

I would have to respectfully disagree with your option in regards to humans working better as a group.

I have often felt that the individualistic drive, and in turn the resulting competition, conflicts, and all other associated factors have been one of the reasons why we (the human race) have been able to innovate in so many various fields at almost exponential rates.

When you have a mass of like minded, same goal-oriented individuals, the goal of outdoing someone working on the same area for personal recognition, or other persona gains (monetary) is truly a motivator that trumps cooperation without vision.

Good examples are things like the arms races, competing tech companies, etc, etc. These types of conflict or competition-oriented environments almost demand that innovation, invention, and extremely rapid creative thinking and development occur in order to stay in the running or at the top. Plus the motivation that someone else is always trying to take your place once you are "the best" helps keep people sharp as well.

I think a society of mindless drones would not have been much more advanced that we were whenever our species first started forming communities...some things would have developed over time, but I doubt at the pace that we have and continue to see today.

Re:It goes to show you (1)

ill_mango (686617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182882)

Well then, we could always head towards a Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) scenario where we have the genetically predispositioned intellectuals doing the thinking and mindless drones doing the grunt work.

About competetive-oriented environments, they may have done well in your examples, but as problems and solutions become more complex, they may become too much for a single person to solve. Eventually, problems may get so complex that it'll take the brain-power of a a few people working together to solve them. (Of course then we may have groups competing against each other instead of individuals)

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that usually we get farther when we work together rather than against each other, and that will probably become increasingly important in the future.

Re:It goes to show you (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182768)

We could probably accomplish a whole lot more if we were all mindless drones, doing what had to be done to finish our jobs.
Then why are we at the top of the food chain?

Re:It goes to show you (1)

DrMorpheus (642706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182877)

Then why are we at the top of the food chain?
Humans like to think that, don't they?

Too bad it ain't true.

[Insert evil laugh]

Re:It goes to show you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182881)

>Then why are we at the top of the food chain?

As Agent Smith put it: "we're the cancer of this planet", that's why.

Re:It goes to show you (1)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182867)

Don't get too excited, since when has a "swarm" of anything been a good thing? I'm sure as sh*t that this will be a military dream come true. How hard would it be to shoot down 10,000 nanobot's using ordinary arms?

Re:It goes to show you (1)

ill_mango (686617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182924)

Well then we'll need nanosoldiers with nanoguns and nanogrenades. And some nanotanks, nanoplanes and nanonukes too. Come to think of it, if everything was nano, that would really cut down on over-population and food shortages and stuff. But in all seriousness, I think explosives would work well against a swarm of tiny machines.

Re:It goes to show you (1)

edrain (658393) | more than 10 years ago | (#8183033)

Or a fly swatter. Maybe made of lasers.

Only a matter of time (-1, Redundant)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182650)

It's only a matter of time before someone posts the obligatory "I, for one, welcome our miniature robotic overlords."

Re:Only a matter of time (1)

Dav3K (618318) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182844)

You're too late.

Re:Only a matter of time (1)

weston (16146) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182855)

It's only a matter of time before someone posts the obligatory "I, for one, welcome our miniature robotic overlords."

Yes, but I, for one, welcome our posting-about-miniature-robotic-overlords overlords.

Re:Only a matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182883)

someone did, a mere 8 minutes before you!

Re:Only a matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182926)

you said it, and it happened! right here in this post
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=95540&ci d=8182 650

Roland Blogbooster (1)

Eldie (513978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182654)

Why does /. keep posting pointers to these summaries? They add absolutely nothing whatsoever to the article.

Re:Roland Blogbooster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182999)

The reason the /. editors link back to his blog entries is because it's considered courteous to link back to the person who did the Slashdot writeup ...

...Except he already gets that in the link back on his name, so Roland's This summary BS link should just be removed.

I have stories posted to the front page at least a couple of times a month. I have a blog. I'm not interested in his kind of self-promotion. It's lame. It's crass. That's why I'm posting AC. It's not about self-promotion for me, but it's about sharing some relevant, useful, entertaining and interesting information with my fellow geeks.

The only thing Roland is interested in each time he posts is his blog entry getting highly ranked on Google. It's obvious. Let's all call it what it is, a BLOG ENTRY, not a summary.

It's no wonder that this AC calls Roland Piquepaille a spammer [slashdot.org] . It's a fair description.

swarmbots and mars exploration (2, Interesting)

avkillick (698274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182655)

I believe Swarmbots and related technology will have a place in future robotic missions to Mars that will precede human exploration. Spirit and Opportunity are independent explorers but future missions will (should) involve specialised rover that will cooperate with each other in mining, materials processing, construction, scientific analysis and exploration.

Re:swarmbots and mars exploration (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#8183029)

How about a constructor bot, a pile of Lego Mindstorms modules, and a whole heap of bricks? I don't see why that wouldn't work, I used to build space probes out of Lego all the time! :)

Mind you, we'd better make sure that there's no life on Mars before dumping a Lego ant farm on it.

Living? Hardly. (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182661)

It never ceases to amaze me how someone with a functioning brain can make the insipid leap to conclude that a friggin' algorithm is a living thing.
Either the authors are just pimping themselves or are entertaining some serious grandious god-like delusions.
No Virginia, there are no living ai or robots.

Re:Living? Hardly. (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182766)

It never ceases to amaze me how someone with a functioning brain can make the insipid leap to conclude that a friggin' algorithm is a living thing.

This comment you made just proves that you've never really thought of the question.

The question is: what defines something as alive or inert? the boundary has always been fuzzy, and endless philosophical debates on the subject have been raging for centuries and still do to this day, albeit with a little more material to try to answer it.

The short of it is: the conventional wisdom would be to define something alive as (1) performing some function, however trivial (i.e. transforming something into something else) and (2) being able to reproduce itself (from full sexual reproduction down to simple mitosis). The problem with that definition is that virii wouldn't count as being alive (they don't reproduce or perform anything without having invaded a host), and virii are usually considered the smallest thing that can be said alive.

If you extend the definition to encompass biological virii, you start defining computer ones as alive too. They, on the other hand, are usually considered "inert" (well, not alive).

etc etc...

So you see, it's not as easy as you might think... I invite you to do research on the subject before posting inflamatory comments.

Re:Living? Hardly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182803)

What is a virii?

I looked it up in every dictionary I could find, it doesn't seem to exist, other than a screwed up spelling of "viruses" that is in no way correct.

Re:Living? Hardly. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182933)

I find more inflammatory the claim itself that algorithms are alive, lacking a definition of "alive". The so-called inflammatory attack basically just pointed out that you cannot proclaim simultaneously that 1) "life is too complicated to define" and 2) "algorithms are alive because they make these pretty pictures".

And I say this having done research in Artificial Life (rightfully called the world's first and only fact-free science) and having thought about the question plenty. I personally believe in the thermodynamic and information theoretic theories of life, which puts me on the "algorithms are alive" side. It still pisses me off plenty to hear popular "science" articles in Wired spout off about it; it's the 60's AI fiasco all over again (except that today, the taboo you break by calling them bullshit is "thou shalt not attack optimism when hip self-referential concepts are involved" whereas before the taboo was probably "thou shalt not question your technocratic overlords; they are smarter than you).

1965: ``Pretty soon we'll have language translation out of the way, and then computers can do any and every intelligent task within a few years."

2000: ``Pretty soon machines will just self-organize to criticality and we won't have to worry about anything!"

Of course, it seems people aren't falling for the latter QUITE as much. Maybe it is a bitten-shy phenomenon; however I believe it is mostly because the latter is even more ridiculous.

Re:Living? Hardly. (1)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182978)

But you can only go so far thinking yourself a great philosopher before even children start to think you're a fool.

I agree with the original poster, the ideas laid out in this article are pretty far fetched.

Re:Living? Hardly. (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182778)

It never ceases to amaze me how someone with a functioning brain can make the assumption that we're more than just a collection of algorithms and their end results.

Emergence (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182673)

In the article they talk about emergence:
EMERGENCE describes the way unpredictable patterns arise from innumerable interactions between independent parts.
Does anyone know more about this? How do people study it, what parameters are important, etc... I'm curious.

Re:Emergence (2, Informative)

PrionPryon (733902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182814)

This book [amazon.com] is worth a trip to the library. It was my introduction when I was first intrigued. Also, Godel, Escher, Bach [amazon.com] speaks to the same concepts as well as others.

Interval ant algorithms? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182682)

Anyone have a pointer to a swarming algorithm that uses interval arithmetic to help reduce anomalies in behavior, etc.?

Re:Interval ant algorithms? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182879)

Here's one you can test on your *nix box:

#include
#include

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
swarming_happens_here:
fork();
goto swarming_happens_here
}

Obligatory Simpson's Reference (0, Redundant)

bendawg (72695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182684)

"I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords"...

um... (2, Funny)

Savatte (111615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182686)

Typically, a swarm bot is a collection of simple robots (s-bots) that self-organize according to algorithms inspired by the bridge-building and task-allocation activities of ants

So they've created artificially intelligent managers. Well I guess this is better than the real thing.

The house of next tuesday... (2, Informative)

Epyn (589398) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182691)

The fascination with miniature robotics really amuses me, with its extremely costly and seemingly pointless projects. I know theyre not pointless/useless, but I'd think theyd get a better public response if they were building larger-scale, more prototype-like systems that had an end result. As opposed to the classic (in my mind) tiny mouse robot that followed around light sources.
Although I suppose micronizing is where to be...if you plan to sell your immediate research.

I said it before... (2, Insightful)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182781)

Home robotics will not take off until someone sells a quality sexbot. I'm not kidding. Pr0n drove the initial sales of the VCR market. It's driving the Internet even if no one wants to admit it. The inital wave of VR games died out because people don't want to put on a dorky helmet viewer without more payoff than shooting at blocky robots, and the cost per game was usually the same as a blow from a crack whore.

One of the most successful and well known drugs in the world is Viagra.

Sex sells everything, and it will sell robots.

Hell, I'd probably buy one, but I expect it to make breakfast in the morning. Preferably pancakes. Warm, fluffy pancakes. Mmmm... pancakes.

Wired != Strong Prediction Success (4, Insightful)

danaan (728990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182698)

I'm sorry, but I cringe every time I see the magazine Wired mentioned along with technology prediction and even current analysis of emerging products. Wired has been a valuable cheerleader of the technology boom, but they have almost without fail fallen for the unexamined hype.

This reached its peak with the "Push" edition of the magazine, which you will no doubt remember if you were a subscriber/reader at the time. The technology never really made that much sense, certanly not in the "world-changing" ways they were talking about at the time. Add in the "new economy", those Cue-Cat scanners and the (again) world changing supposed effects of satellite phones (just to name a few off the top of my head) and Wired has quickly become the equivalent of the Sports Illustrated cover curse.

Woe to any futurologist or technologist that should find themselves prognosticating within the pages of Wired!

Re:Wired != Strong Prediction Success (1)

ill_mango (686617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182763)

You have to admit that they do at least pique your interest. I love reading Wired articles, because even though I know they aren't always as spot-on as some other sources, at least in my mind I am always thinking "Cool!" when I read an article. They show me what COULD be possible with today's technology and a bit of work, and I think that they fill that job quite well.

Re:Wired != Strong Prediction Success (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182822)

But Satelite Phones have changed the world... they aren't used by everyday folks yet, but satelite video phones are being used consistantly to provide news reports from parts of the world where it has been impossible in the past. A lot of the amazing coverage of the latest war in iraq was made possible because of satelite phones. It is by no means on par with the CueCat...

Re:Wired != Strong Prediction Success (1)

lysium (644252) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182931)

The 'Push' issue was the definitive end of Wired's relevance. I wish I could go back in time and show the author how the world has changed now that porn ads are 'pushed' onto the desktop and spyware 'pushed' into the registry....

Then I would give the aforementioned author the thrashing of a lifetime.

=------=

Smart Dust (5, Informative)

pararox (706523) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182702)

This reminds me of an article in the new "Innovators Section" as seen in Time magazine (January 12th '04 edition).

Essentially, it discusses Kris Pister who developed Smart Dust - a wireless network of sensors, called motes. Each mote has a chip about the size of a grain of rice that detects and records things like termperature and motion at its location. The motes have minisule radio transmitters that talk to otehr motes. With a single network of 10,000 motes, the upper limit, you could cover some 9 sq. miles - and get information about each point along the way!

Anyway, here's a brief description:
innovationwatch.com [innovationwatch.com]

Here is the Dust, Inc. homepage:
http://www.dust-inc.com/

Frightening technology in many respects, but I can't help but smile at the thought of the brilliance behind it all.

Regards,
-pararox-

Why do ants get all the press? (2, Interesting)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182713)

The cow [bigzaphod.org] has all sorts of natural patterns that could aid us. Or what about chickens? We wouldn't want to forget about the utility of pecking at problems until they go away, would we?

Re:Why do ants get all the press? (1)

PrionPryon (733902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182858)

Why stop with lesser mammals and avians? Humans [peterme.com] do it too.

Re:Why do ants get all the press? (4, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182895)

It's simple: A single ant is stupid. It's much more stupid than your average computer program. Yet ants achieve things which are all but stupid.

Who are you? Gary Larson? (1)

Bonewalker (631203) | more than 10 years ago | (#8183050)

Cows and Chickens in The Far Side, were occasionally brilliant, and more often than not, constantly trying to outdo their human masters.

Talk about brilliant, Gary Larson is one funny and intelligent guy. We need a swarm of Larsons.

"PREY"... (3, Insightful)

Vanguard(DC) (203158) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182727)

there ARE actually a few writers of fiction who dedicate alot of time to great research on REAL technologies, then apply it to ifcitonal scenerios.

Crichton is one of those. As is Dan Brown, Robin Cook, Tom Clancy...etc etc.

Go check out "Prey," and it will introduce you to this technology in a "fun way," and even introduce you to the inherent risks and problems we face as these technologies emerge.

with all of these tech/spec guides for work, it's nice to dumb it down with a novel every week or so! What I like to do is read one, then research the techonologies mentioned, and try to determine if they are Sci-Fi, or the real deal. Reading them is kinda like brainstorming, and gives me plenty of random knowledge ideas for me to go Google-crazy with!

try it sometime...

Re:"PREY"... (2, Interesting)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182783)

This is very true. IMHO once the ants deal with Prey, even though they have not been programmed to in any way, that will be real AI. AI is the ability to make decisions without ever having dealt with the scenerio before. An ant creating a "city" for example, isn't AI at all, it's good programming, yes, but not AI. If you suddenly add Prey to the equation and the ants learn ways to deal with said prey (evolution people!) then THAT would be true AI, and I feel we are still MINIMUM 5 years from this point.. As for the authors you mentioned, I started reading Dan Brown, and now I'm a true follower. Every technology he writes about is true. Another great one I'd like to add is "The Cobra Event" by Richard Preston. The technology covered in this book is SCARY. You may have heard of his book "The Hot Zone", I'd recommend Cobra event as the technology is more true-to-life. It was written years ago with future predictions on technology, and if you watch CNN at ALL you would know that his technology has become a reality, Bio-terrorism at it's scariest..

Re:"PREY"... (1)

CFTM (513264) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182957)

I just realized that you already mentioned Dan Brown but
  • The Da Vinci Code
and
  • Angels & Demons
are such good books that I had to mention it. If you have any interest in symbollogy, the history of Catholicism, the death of the mother goddess with the advent of the religions of the book I strongly suggest reading those two books. They're very entertaining to read with interesting characters and a good story with a ton of historical information. Here's a little tidbit, go search for Da Vinci's "Last Supper" and take a close look at the person sitting to Jesus's left ... take a close look at the various aspects ... it makes one think.

Categories and Organisms (3, Interesting)

NixLuver (693391) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182735)

None of this should surprise us. As time goes on we learn that our categorical views of the world are mere cognitive conveniences. The unit of life is the cell, not the organism - you have cells that can live outside your body, if provided with the proper oxygen and food. The fact that we see a person rather than a collection of single celled symbiotic organisms reflects the bias of our cognition, not some universally correct perception of the cosmos.

I think that we will find 'living systems' everywhere we look, once we overcome the bias of the pattern matchers in our heads that make us think that our biases are the laws of the Universe.

Re:Categories and Organisms (1)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182878)

I don't think our "pattern matchers" and "bias of cognition" are all that innacurate. I disagree with the idea that everything is relative. I beleive there are some absolutes and universal absolutes in the universe.

When you say we might find 'living systems' everywhere we look, I think that's quite a stretch, and that there really is a difference between this type of contrived cooperation, and actual, beautiful life.

Artificial intelligence would have to make astounding advancements to even begin to blur the lines between machines and life.

Re:Categories and Organisms (2, Informative)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182918)

...collection of single celled symbiotic organisms...

Jelly fish are often decsribed this way. I like to think they're pretty much like other animals, but their "nervous system" is a bit more decentralized.

News about Michael (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182757)

Uh oh... Michael just stuck a whole jar of honey up his ass and he is going out to back to sit on the anthill again. Why does he like that so much?

What kind of bot is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182774)

A-ha! But what do you call a bot that spams every particpatory blog site out there with links to "This summary" instead of plainly saying what "This summary" really is -- thinly disguised self-promotion and links back to your own blog with a straight cut and paste rip-off from the original article?

A rip-bot? A whore-bot? A Pique-bot? A je-ne-sais-quoi-bot? A Roland-bot?

Think about it.

Intelligence in machines (4, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182779)

Often I hear people talking about their robots on TV, and they say that their robots are about as intelligent as a bee or wasp. But if I compare the behaviour of a bee or wasp or whatever insect to those footballing robots I see on TV I'm not so sure. For instance you have wasps that make a hole in the ground, fly away to find some insect larva, bring it to their hole, sedate the larva, lay an egg in it, put it in the hole and close the hole. To be able to do this it must have a general idea about what a hole in the ground is and how to make it. When it is born it cannot know exactly where to make the hole because it has to find a suitable place. So how does the wasp decide where to make the hole? And it must have a pretty good memory too, to be able to find the hole back after some flying around. If you compare this behaviour of a tiny wasp to the robots we have playing football or driving around on Mars (or vacuuming our living room for that matter) I think we still have a long long way to go. This is a very interesting subject and sometimes I envy people that are just now deciding what to study :-) I'm too old to start with this now.

JUST HEARD AOL WANTS THEIR MONEY BACK (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8182802)

For the nippled half time show! In other news Janet Jackson is getting sued and had filled for bankcruptcy. Justin Timberlake was heard laughing his ass off.

Weather is about chemistry? (5, Insightful)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182811)

One sentence killed the authority of the article...

Similarly, weather develops from the mixing of oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, and other... molecules

What? Weather is all about energy, and is powered by the sun. Highs and lows are all about temperature, not the balance of elements. Mixing of elements has little to do with weather.

Sheesh!

D

Re:Weather is about chemistry? (1)

PrionPryon (733902) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182908)

I am also aghast at this meteorological baloney.

Differential heating sets up temperature gradients on the earth surfaces which produce pressure disparities that drive circulation. Although water vapour is important in defining system behaviour its influence arises from the storage and transport of latent heat. The other species play minor roles with regards to heating.

Someone has to say it (0, Redundant)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182847)

I give the now-obligatory but wholly sincere greetings to our new teeny tiny robotic overlords.

Related Ant algorithm site (4, Interesting)

llebegue (40129) | more than 10 years ago | (#8182866)

If you want to see some cool demonstration of ant behavior algorithm check this web site Eurobios [eurobios.com]
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>