Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


Computing, AI, Cybernetics and Mechatronics

Dragonfly Ornithopters

As fans of Dune will readily see, an ornithopter is a flapping wing flying machine, as a helicopter is a rotary wing flying machine. Where of course we have seen how Dragonflies are elliptical winged insects capable of up to 56 km/h speed. They also have pterostigmas that control flutter, gaining up to 25% speed [in gliding mode]. Then, there are airflow and wing flex sensors that indicate sophisticated, highly tuned control loop networks. These insects are capable of forward and reverse flight, hovering and sideways flight. They also have up to 97% success rate in predation. Such a natural model will of course inspire engineers. So, we can see here, a Dragonfly robot ornithopter: A clip: Resemblance to a Read More ›

Building a Yacht — design in action

Here, we see a sped up time-lapsed snapshot succession view of the design and construction of a fibreglass vs a wooden yacht: Here is another: Now, let’s scale down to a canoe: We thus see illustrated how . . . design is intelligently directed configuration which makes advantageous, and ideally skilled and artistic, use of forces and materials in nature, economically, to achieve desired ends. Now, let us follow Paley in his second step, in Ch 2 of his argument. Suppose, that, in the course of its voyaging we were to notice that a particular yacht — having in it various stored plans, algorithms, assembler position- arm- effector devices, jigs, frames and devices etc, were to somehow construct another yacht Read More ›

An example of interwoven protein code (HT, Wiki!)

Here, in human mitochondrial DNA — note the BLUE code start and the RED code stop; all HT to Wiki publishing against known ideological interest: Complex interwoven code is of course doubly functionally specific, so it is exponentially harder to account for, other than by exceedingly sophisticated and creative intelligently directed configuration. Indeed, when I had to write machine code, I thanked my lucky stars 2114’s and 2716’s were by then affordable RAM and EPROM chips, and proceeded from there. (BTW, a neighbour who was an engineer in an earlier era spoke of how people flew across North America just to see 1 MB of live RAM, in a video memory, a million dollar cost in itself.) We know v Read More ›

Is Mathematics falling under the sway of a computerised, AI-driven celebrity-authority culture?

Two recent remarks in VICE (a telling label, BTW) raise some significant concerns. First, Kevin Buzzard — no, this is not Babylon Bee [itself a sign when it is harder and harder to tell reality from satire] — Sept 26th: Number Theorist Fears All Published Math Is Wrong “I think there is a non-zero chance that some of our great castles are built on sand,” he said, arguing that we must begin to rely on AI to verify proofs. [ . . . ] Kevin Buzzard, a number theorist and professor of pure mathematics at Imperial College London, believes that it is time to create a new area of mathematics dedicated to the computerization of proofs. The greatest proofs have Read More ›

The Code 1202 glitch during the LM descent to the Moon

Why did the LM’s “mini” computer throw a restart glitch during the descent? Eyles — who wrote the code — tells the story: We are here discussing the LM’s mini computer, which used IC’s to effect an unprecedented small size (and “only” 70 lbs, in a box Eyles describes as 1 ft x 2 ft x 6 inches): Spoiler alert: a switch had been bumped, a radar overloaded the tiny 36,000 word memory and reset was triggered. Armstrong took over manual pilot and rode over a crater that was headlined at the time as an emergency leading to a blood pressure and heart rate surge. A successful landing was effected (I recall, listening after church as my late Dad tuned Read More ›

Logic & First Principles, 21: Insightful intelligence vs. computationalism

One of the challenges of our day is the commonplace reduction of intelligent, insightful action to computation on a substrate. That’s not just Sci Fi, it is a challenge in the academy and on the street — especially as AI grabs more and more headlines. A good stimulus for thought is John Searle as he further discusses his famous Chinese Room example: The Failures of Computationalism John R. Searle Department of Philosophy University of California Berkeley CA The Power in the Chinese Room. Harnad and I agree that the Chinese Room Argument deals a knockout blow to Strong AI, but beyond that point we do not agree on much at all. So let’s begin by pondering the implications of the Read More ›

BBC on the “evolution” of robots (missing the “by design” part)

BBC has done a mini-series on the “evolution” of robots, even speaking of invasive species. The silence on the “by design” part is conspicuous, especially as they use a biologist (male) and an engineer (female) as their key personalities: The blindness to the obvious is glaring, inadvertently showing the blinding power of a dominant, flawed paradigm. But, what about reproduction and evolution? Here, von Neumann’s self replicating machine gives us a window into the further required level of design involved: What we are seeing, in short, is induced blindness to the obvious. Where, of course, simply the use of alphanumeric, algorithmic code . . . and thus, communication systems . . . in D/RNA to make proteins is a big Read More ›

Does information theory support design in nature?

Eric Holloway argues at Mind Matters that design theorist William Dembski makes a convincing case, using accepted information theory principles relevant to computer science: When I first began to look into intelligent design (ID) theory while I was considering becoming an atheist, I was struck by Bill Dembski’s claim that ID could be demonstrated mathematically through information theory. A number of authors who were experts in computer science and information theory disagreed with Dembski’s argument. They offered two criticisms: that he did not provide enough details to make the argument coherent and that he was making claims that were at odds with established information theory. In online discussions, I pressed a number of them, including Jeffrey Shallit, Tom English, Joe Read More ›

How do memristors work? [Onward implications for Strong AI.]

Memristors are in effect tunable resistors; where a resistive state can be programmed [and changed, so far a very finite number of times]. This means they can store and process information, especially by carrying out weighted-product summations and vector-based matrix array product summations. Such are very powerful physically instantiated mathematical operations. For example, here is a memristor crossbar matrix: . . . and here is one in use to recognise patterns:   They hold promise for AI, high density storage units and more. How they work turns out to be a bit of a challenge, as IEEE Spectrum reported in 2015: >>Over the last decade researchers have produced two commercially promising types of memristors: electrochemical metallization memory (ECM) cells, and Read More ›

Why look at AI-linked themes — what is the relevance to ID as a scientific enterprise?

One of the key ideas and driving assumptions of modern evolutionary materialistic scientism is that mind can be explained on brain without residue. In an extreme form, we can see it in Crick’s the Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. Philip Johnson, of course, replied the next year, Read More ›