What Has Science Done: Hugo de Garis

If there is ever a Mad Science Awards, I nominate Dr Hugo de Garis. Tesla was crazier, but he’s dead.

Dr de Garis will tell you that he specializes in “brain building.” He runs a lab at Utah State University in Logan, and ran his now-defunct company before that called “Starlab” (as opposed to S.T.A.R. Lab, which is the research group that helps Superman). I believe before that he was in a lab in Japan, because in the mid 1990s when I first started following him that is where his press releases we staged…

Ok so to get back to the point: Dr de Garis will tell you that he specializes in “brain building.” No. Actually what he specializes in is press releases. Every so often, he broadcasts to the world that he and his lab are just on the verge of making a brain that is smarter than a human brain. That the new electronic brains will be superior to humans, and in the end will replace them.

Then he starts getting nostalgic about the human world he’s destroyed… but he has to continue on creating these things for SCIENCE! !!! Of course the press eats this up with a spoon… they’ve all seen the Terminator movies.

I have to say, his older press releases were funnier. He would actually talk about how the machines would be capable of wiping out human civilization… Maybe he is getting more mellow with age. Too bad!

The Details

What almost all these projects are based on:
they take Xilinx chips, which are basically reconfigurable logic gate arrays, and they make neural networks out of them… the way this works in a nutshell, is they have a stream of data which is input in a cellular automaton, which from the look of things is a 3D implementation of a variant of Turing’s CA. The stream “grows” a network of “neurons” through a blank CA medium… after this “brain” is formed it is ready for use. The brain’s configuration stream is tuned with Genetic Algorithms or something to optimise its performance.

Don’t worry, I’m not making this up… I actually read a bunch of his papers, and no, I didn’t sprain my brain.

BRAIN: I need to show you Hugo de Garis
BG: whats that?
BRAIN: a real guy who says stuff like that
BRAIN: http://www.cs.usu.edu/~degaris/
BG: wowl hes scary
BG: did you ever read galetea 2.2?
BRAIN: read this – it’s hysterical. I’ll try to find you a funnier one
BG: this is almost laughable. its great!
BG: wait, hes implying that the journalists will be theh ones who in
the end, make the decision!
BRAIN: To the Cosmists (based on the word ‘cosmos’), building artilects will be a religion (compatible with and based upon modern science), as the destiny of the human species, as the magnificent goal of creating the next rung up the ladder of dominant species. To the Terrans (based on the word ‘terra’, the earth), building such artilects means accepting the risk that one day, in an advanced state, these artilect gods might decide, for whatever reason, that the human species is so inferior and such a pest, that they should exterminate us.
BRAIN: For me, the tragedy of seeing the human species wiped out is less significant than not seeing the birth of the artilects. This sounds monstrous, and it is in human terms, but to deny the creation of the first true artilect, which would be “worth” a trillion trillion trillion human beings, would be a far
greater tragedy, a “cosmic” tragedy.
BG: he could get a nobel for that!
BRAIN: this one is the same article, but better formatting
BRAIN: isn’t he a fucking riot?
BG: its like nukes or gunpowder!
BG: Building Gods! HOOT!
BRAIN: well, that is the best I could find for now
BRAIN: what he does is this-
BRAIN: he’s a “brain builder”
BRAIN: he works on this technology where you take a string
BRAIN: and tweak rules governing it’s self replication
BRAIN: and eventually the string forms a “brain”
BRAIN: a closed system which “thinks”
BG: i like the idea that they can think thousants trillion trillion trillion times faster
BG: we need names for new numbers
BRAIN: we have names for all those numbers already
BG: i wonder if computers will actually be smarter than humans…
BRAIN: every so often he releases a press statement
BRAIN: about how close they are to making a synthetic human brain
BRAIN: and then he waxes poetic about how sad it will be
BRAIN: when the brains surpass humanity
BRAIN: and decide to wipe us all out
BG: that is so sweet of him. i like to think about the day we are killed by robots!