Bruce Damer's talk at the CONTACT2012 conference (March 30, 2012)
The EvoGrid and ChemoGrid: Genesis EnginesDriving toward a New Origin of Life Bruce Damer, DigitalSpace and Biota.org CONTACT 2012-SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA 03 30 2012
ET How many (if any) are out there? How many are on the move?How did they figure out how to do that? And can we do the same?
The Drake Equation (for ETs of the “I Love Lucy” detectable kind) where: N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible; and R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets fℓ = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space L = the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.
Damer’s extensions to the Drake Equation (for ETs of the “boldly go where no ET has gone before” kind) where: N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy which got up the gumption to boldly go out and find the others (ie: In Real Life); and fv = the fraction of civilizations who sport “visionary geeks”, wacky individuals or collectives not solely committed to mundane productivity but instead hooked on this “boldly go” escapade f$ = the fraction of those civilizations whose visionary geeks are not only out of the closet but able to get funding support f(t+n) = the fraction of those civilizations who are willing to fund visionary geeks for indeterminately long periods of time fT = the fraction of the above civilizations that are willing to pay for large scale versions of the geeks’ products for a very long time fm = the fraction of the above that are able to remember what it was all about and handle the end results (or lack of them) in a “mature” way (ie: not killing off all the visionary geeks and burning the fleet)
So how do these ET visionary geeks accomplish the Boldly Go Thing?I postulate that it can and must be done in these seven easy steps…They have to understand the concept of abstraction (math) as allgood geeks do and that they have to learn how to adapt their brainsand/or build machines to render these abstractions into a simulation(computing conceptual worlds at many scales)They have to have acquired understanding of their own evolutionand that ET civilization and innovation can be vastly advanced overmere tinker-toy fiddling by tapping the power of evolutionThey have to then marry the mechanisms of evolution with the toolof simulation and play around with primordial soups for a while,proving they can make this work before their grants run outThey then have to decide to apply this magic combination to thechallenge of evolving a viable biota (bio-plasmic or machine or both)to take them or their replacements out into the universe
They obviously have to have a good working knowledge of the bitsof the universe where they expect to send their “Bio-Universal-Machine” (BUM) selvesTime to put it all together for our visionary geek ETs: get your BUMsin simulated gear, fabricate them in atoms and dispatch them to boldlygo forth and multiplySome (not small) time later… in a parking orbit above Earth, theETs honk and wave “yo down there, got anyone crazy enough to beworking on what we just did, if so, send em up!” And our visionary geek ETs will have answered the key question of the Universe: Are there are other BUMs like us out there?
But is this realistic? Freeman Dyson: “the simulation should be truly ‘messy’, ie: nature is not clean and neat as you are showing in the movie, cells are more like dirty water surrounded by garbage bags” -Professor, Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, NJNJ
Penny Boston: “The simulationmust model abstract universes andnot attempt a high fidelitychemistry model, all that counts isif you can demonstrate a methodfor supporting ever increasinglevels of emergent complexity”-Associate Professor of Cave and Karst ScienceDirector, Cave and Karst StudiesDept of Earth & Environmental ScienceNew Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM
Boston: “You need this…. to originate and evolve complex life (and civilization)”
The EvoGrid: a large central artificial chemistry simulation operated upon by analysis clients
The Challenge of Computational Origins of Life EndeavoursHistorical antecedents informing the challenge and design of the digital simulation of evolution: Barricelli’s numerical symbioorganisms (Barricelli, 1953).
Hardware configuration for EvoGrid, first and second smallgrids: DigiBarn (2010) and U.C. San Diego (2011) Grid1: 2 months operation (4 cores average)Grid2: approx 5 months operation (15-30 cores, distribution of daemons)
The EvoGrid First Prototype Experiments and Analysis(teleological end goals) Meta-experiment: Lots of molecules (directed search) Meta-experiment: Large molecules (directed search)
Sample results by “molecular” products Experiment #1 (max=60) Experiment #6 (max=141) WebGL 3D viewer depicting snapshot of simulations with current virtual molecular products (yields).
Comparison of key experiments and analysis Experiment #1: plateau maximum of 60 molecules Experiment #6: surmounts serial maxima, eventual plateau at 141 molecules (189 at termination of experiment)
Conclusion of EvoGrid Experiments andNext Steps: the ChemoGrid• Stochastic Hill Climbing through the simulation of dissipative systems (molecules) can be used to traverse vectors to higher complexity more rapidly toward teleological end goals• Computers are decades from having the capacity to simulate chemical volumes in large enough numbers or for long enough times to carry out qualified origin of life experiments• Next Steps: The ChemoGrid, using chemicals to simulate themselves in a hybrid between combinatorial chemistry and computer and robotically driven search and selection and reseeding of small volume chemical experiments
PhD Thesis!Completed after 25 years of on and off workUniversity College Dublin, 2011
Book derived from Thesis!Damer, Seckbach and Gordon, eds. (2013)Actively seeking contributing authors
Back to ETBrewing up aliens in the EvoGrid, but are they alien?EvoGrid as a new kind of SETI telescope: where inthe universe might life arise, and what kind?Or… what alternative universes (physics) would beconducive to life (is there a continuum?)Would the EvoGrid be our means to communicatewith ET? A signal lock? If we talk to them via adaptivevirtual creatures will they spare us the bulldozersbuilding the intergalactic bypass?If we build the EvoGrid out of quantum computers willwe be able to control the critters’ spread, turn on theuniverse?
Ode to a Genesis EngineOh Genesis Engine, you great Rube Goldberg machine of the21st Century, resplendent with all your pumps piping chemicalsoups around, your computer eyes scanning for signs ofcompeting lines of polymer-infused vesicles, and your purringgrids of silicon modeling yields then selecting experiments to berobotically re-seeded. And inside of you one day, perhapsdecades hence, an alarm will sound in one lone experimentwithin your millions of distributed ChemoGrids. A sample will berushed for analysis and scientists will emerge breathlesslydeclaring that a second genesis has occurred, or rather is in thecourse of occurring if time (and budgets) permitted running youfor another thousand years. You will leave us all wonderingwhat it all means, but it will mark a major moment for ourspecies, as powerful as when our Earth was first photographedfrom space, for thanks to you we will know that we are mostcertainly not alone in the Universe, and in some sense, we willhave made CONTACT.
Acknowledgements and Resources• DigitalSpace EvoGrid Team: www.evogrid.org• NASA Ames Research Center and other NASA Centers and contractor colleagues• UC San Diego Calit2• University College Dublin/SMARTLab• Elixir Technologies Corporation• Getting in touch: Bruce@Damer.com