After the success of last year’s brain-computer interface talk I decided to follow up again this year with another crazy-forward-looking scan of the digital landscape.
There are two panels I’m co-organizing with a colleague from my Scientific American staff days, Christopher Mims.
One talk is about uncovering the DARPA budgets, revealing the crazy, yet plausible, projects the U.S. government is funding…from my pitch:
For more than 50 years the mad scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—aka DARPA, the outrageous research arm of the Pentagon—have been launching the most disruptive technologies on earth, living up to their mantra of “high risk—high payoff.” We have DARPA to thank for the personal computer, the Internet, the Berkeley Unix system, most of NASA, and countless crazy military innovations. Their mission is to think beyond the possible and forever be three decades ahead. In this talk we will dig into, and present the relevant parts of, DARPA’s $3 billion-dollar budget, pulling out the most amazing and most-likely-to-reach-fruition projects. Think electromagnetic bazookas, telepathic soldiers, ape-inspired robots, memory chips in brains, shapeshifting planes and boats. It might sound like sci-fi, but given its inspired history it seems that analyzing DARPA’s current projects will give us one of the clearest views into our future reality.
The other talk covers the use of biomimicry in the software industry. This is essentially looking to nature for inspiration in designing software programs:
As computers become more complicated, they start to resemble brains. That is, they become massively parallel, they develop task-specific sub-processors, etc. So we shouldn’t be surprised that the software we’re writing for them is, increasingly, built on algorithms that Nature invented first – whether we realize it or not. For example: For many years the developers of software-based neural networks struggled to make them relevant and useful. Only with the addition of more layers of artificial neurons, a development inspired by real neural networks such as those in the human brain, have the latest versions of these software algorithms begun to bear fruit….Attendees will come away with the realization that rather than continually reinventing the wheel, software engineers can and should take inspiration from the solutions to problems in perception, communication, resource optimization and processing that have been evolving in the nervous systems of vertebrates and invertebrates for billions of years.
Please take a moment to quickly register and vote for these two talks.
We really appreciate it — and look forward to seeing you in Austin next March!