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Programming an intelligence for solving complex problems

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Evolving an intelligence with the use of computers
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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Well, certainly, I now have available millions of times more power than I had available then, or I could have available, if I use the cloud or something like that. Now is a million enough? I don't know. I mean, I was off by a million last time, so maybe I'm off by a million again, but the fact is I certainly have a lot more power to do something like this. And the strange thing is, it hasn't been done. So what's been done on these faster computers isn't even as interesting as what was done on the slower computers. So I'm kind of excited to try this. So I think you could evolve an intelligence by this system of multiple adaptations and co-evolution of parasites and it could really turn out to be something pretty exciting. I think you could evolve something that had much more intelligent behavior than anything that we could evolve by the techniques that we're using today.

W Daniel Hillis (b. 1956) is an American inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While doing his doctoral work at MIT under artificial intelligence pioneer, Marvin Minsky, he invented the concept of parallel computers, that is now the basis for most supercomputers. He also co-founded the famous parallel computing company, Thinking Machines, in 1983 which marked a new era in computing. In 1996, Hillis left MIT for California, where he spent time leading Disney’s Imagineers. He developed new technologies and business strategies for Disney's theme parks, television, motion pictures, Internet and consumer product businesses. More recently, Hillis co-founded an engineering and design company, Applied Minds, and several start-ups, among them Applied Proteomics in San Diego, MetaWeb Technologies (acquired by Google) in San Francisco, and his current passion, Applied Invention in Cambridge, MA, which 'partners with clients to create innovative products and services'. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices (including a 10,000-year mechanical clock), and has recently moved into working on problems in medicine. In recognition of his work Hillis has won many awards, including the Dan David Prize.

Listeners: George Dyson Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: intelligence, evolution, computer programming

Duration: 59 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 05 July 2017