Insights January 13th, 2016

Beyond the Singularity – Computronium we look at a material hypothesized to be used as “programmable matter,” a substrate for computer modeling of virtually any real object.
Norman Margolus and Tommaso Toffoli of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed this idea of matter to be used as “programmable matter.” You can also read their 1987 paper on ‘Cellular Automata Machines’ here.

The advantages of an architecture optimized for cellular automata (CA) simulations are so great that, for large-scale CA experiments, it becomes absurd to use any other kind of computer.

Computronium is matter that has been transformed from its natural state into a computer of the maximum physically achievable efficiency. (An Extropian might argue that this is matter’s “natural state”.) What constitutes “computronium” varies with the level of postulated technology; a rod-logic nanocomputer is probably too primitive, since the basic elements consist of hundreds or thousands of atoms. More likely forms of computronium include three-dimensional quantum cellular automata, or exotic forms of matter such as neutronium, Higgsium, and monopolium. [Definition by Eliezer Yudkowsky]
Bill Butera from MIT CBA also developed a programming model where little code fragments hop from particle to particle, traveling around and self-organizing into a system that solves a problem. The vision is to change the computer from a monolithic box to a raw material that gets configured by instructions traveling through it.

Ray Kurzweil – What Will Happen After the Technological Singularity?

So that means that any material with particles (that’s everything from rocks to water to whatever) could in fact become a computer at the particle level. It’s a pretty wild idea. Here’s Ray Kurzweil to explain a little more.


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.


Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA (FRSA), a media personality, and has worked with over 400 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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