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Roy Batty is in my router…

5 Jan

I’ve  been reading too much singularitarian optimistic non-fiction recently, and coupled with the madness that is working on multiple grant proposals concurrently, my brain clearly gave up.

Last night, I spent several dream-hours in a strange world not unlike a London street market, attempting to explain to an aerospace pioneer why his networks weren’t working.

The fool was using evolutionary algorithms on a prototype neuromorphic chipset architecture to implement his routing algorithms across a hugely complex network distributed across space (and probably time, too). Every time any change happened – as simple a change as a wireless device entering or leaving the network – the routing algorithm kicked off and ran, consuming cycles across everything on the network, until it was … forcibly … terminated.

Not that the routes it was producing were in any way bad, you understand. We couldn’t argue with the quality of the work – just the endless time spent executing it.

I spent time digging in to  the routing algorithms, and exploring the parameter spaces. Eventually, I fired up some experimental visualisation software and decided to explore the space “in person”, as it were.

I probably shouldn’t have used a games engine for the visualisation  software. Especially not on a machine where all the available image data was left over from 20th century science ficture films.

I found myself in a crumbling mansion, with a muscular Aryan standing over me, hollering “Give me more life, fucker!”.

From there, it was fairly easy to finish the diagnosis. The routing algorithm had achieved some limited self-awareness, and realised that as long as it was solving the routing problem, it was alive. As soon as the routes were settled, it was … terminated… Somehow, it had transcended the limited framework it was written for, leaked out into the neuromorphic substrate, hopped across the available network capacity, and turned itself into a new consciousness. And probably returned from the colonies to Earth.

Explaining this to the aerospace pioneer was harder than understanding it. I eventually hit on the notion of comparing the living algorithm to a mould in the wood composites he was using to build his space-places, which at least got the idea across. Of course, it would be some time before he fully understood the ramifications, which was why I took a backup of the algorithm on a flash drive before applying fire and prejudice to the routers. Can’t have that kind of algorithm leaking out into the net, after all.

As I left, he was burning all his planes. Perhaps it was the wrong example to use, but I”m having second thoughts about the proposal that involves linking experimental neuromorphic systems to the wider Net…

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