AI News, Accelerando Technical Companion

Accelerando Technical Companion

The purpose of this companion is to help alleviate any confusions the reader may have, as well as to introduce new confusions by giving the reader an idea of the current state and expected future of the technologies described in the novel.

within a generation he's an obsolete burnout case, his daughter Amber has transmigrated into a simulation space hosted aboard a one kilogram starship, and they're dismantling the solar system to build more brains.

agalmics: A form of economics concerning the 'study and practice of the production and allocation of non-scarce goods,' primarily via free-market trading, open-source initiatives, and flexible standards for intellectual property.

Bose-Einstein condensate: A Bose–Einstein condensate is a phase of matter formed by bosons cooled to temperatures very near to absolute zero (0 kelvins or -273.15 degrees Celsius).

Under such supercooled conditions, a large fraction of the atoms collapse into the lowest quantum state, at which point quantum effects become apparent on a macroscopic scale.

Brown Dwarf: Brown dwarfs are sub-stellar objects with a mass below that necessary to maintain hydrogen-burning nuclear fusion reactions in their cores, as do stars on the main sequence, but which have fully convective surfaces and interiors, with no chemical differentiation by depth.

Cartesian theatre: Descartes suggested that the brain served to pre-process sensory information and deliver it to the 'seat of the soul,' or homunculus (Latin, literally, 'little man').

He proposed that this function might be somewhat like the viewing of a play, wherein the sole audience member, the soul, views the perceptions delivered by the brain as if in a theatre.

Deep Space Network (DSN): From the official site: 'The NASA Deep Space Network - or DSN - is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe.'

Many extropians foresee the eventual realization of unlimited maximum life spans, and the recovery, thanks to future advances in biomedical technology, of those whose bodies/brains have been preserved by means of cryonics.

light cone: In general relativity, the future light cone is the boundary of the causal future of a point and the past light cone is the boundary of its causal past.

Lobster stomatogastric ganglion (STG): This is a well-studied network of neurons found in the lobster which controls the rhythmic contractions of stomach muscles and intra-stomach teeth.

Neurobiologists treat this ganglion as a model system for understanding central pattern generators, a generic term for networks of neurons which control repetitive behavior.

The innermost shell is powered by the radiation from a star, while outer shells are powered by residual radiation and waste heat generated by inner shells.

rubberized concrete: Roger Jones and others, working at LANL in 1997, reported on the successful use of supercritical carbon dioxide to impregnate concrete with polymers, dyes, and other interesting molecules that modify its physical properties.

Slashdotting: A large influx of visitors to a web server, due to a link from the front page of, a popular web site for technology-related news.

The hyphae (strands) of many fungi are syncitial: long open cellular tubes with multiple nuclei but no internal cell walls, as opposed to one cell-controlling nucleus per partitioned-off cell.

Thompson hack: a type of back door (security hole) in a computer program which is undetectable even by examining the source code because it is introduced by the compiler, which itself contains this type of back door.

For instance, one could prove Fermat's Last Theorem (or almost any other theorem) by writing a program that tries all possible x, y, z, and n until it finds a solution of x^n+y^n=z^n, then asking the Turing Oracle whether the program will ever find a solution.

van Eck radiation: The electromagnetic emissions of a computer display or processor, the act of detecting and reconstructing which is known as van Eck phreaking, in a form of electronic eavesdropping.

Variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket: The variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket (VASIMR) is a hypothetical form of spacecraft propulsion that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to accelerate a propellant.

Since measuring time in units like days, months, and years are of limited usefulness in regions not on the planet Earth, one often sees the usage of time measures based on the second, such as megaseconds or gigaseconds.

An EXOcortex can best be described as the portion of a trans- or posthuman entity's brain (or cortex) which exists outside of that entity's primary computing structure, usually the brain inhabiting a person's 'meatbody.'

For example, a person's exocortex could very well be composed of all the external memory modules, processor, and devices that the person's biological brain interacts with on a realtime basis, thereby in effect making those external devices a functional part of the individual's 'mind.'

A METAcortex, on the other hand, is a processing construction built entirely out of the connections between other processing constructions--a sort of 'higher brain' composed of lesser brains, all of which contribute to its functionality.

These devices, however, are almost certainly networked with millions of similar devices (other folks' computers/servers/etc.) via the Internet--which, as a collective processing and data-storage organ, can be considered a METAcortex encompassing but also transcending (in functionality) the sum of all its parts.

As he arrives at the Luton airport at the beginning of the chapter, Manny makes an offhand reference to President Santorum's America, most likely referring to a future in which a decadent U.S. is presided by current (as of the book's writing) chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Rick Santorum (of homosexual controversy fame).

pocket universe (usage: 'arguments proliferate indefinitely in the pocket universe of the ship') in the context, the ship is merely a container, with the crew/passengers being pure software;

for a small population semi-isolated from the main body of society, it is a reflection that no matter how hip and intelligent any given group could be, it is impossible for a 'small town' to be as creative as a 'large city';

A basilisk is a visual representation which causes harm (usually death) by triggering a thought which the human brain is physically or logically incapable of thinking.

A new brain-inspired architecture could improve how computers handle data and advance AI

'If you look at human beings, we compute with 20 to 30 watts of power, whereas AI today is based on supercomputers which run on kilowatts or megawatts of power,' Sebastian said.

The first level exploits a memory device's state dynamics to perform computational tasks in the memory itself, similar to how the brain's memory and processing are co-located.

The second level draws on the brain's synaptic network structures as inspiration for arrays of phase change memory (PCM) devices to accelerate training for deep neural networks.

By applying electrical pulses, the researchers modulated the ratio of material in the crystalline and the amorphous phases so the phase change memory devices could support a continuum of electrical resistance or conductance.

Last year, they ran an unsupervised machine learning algorithm on a conventional computer and a prototype computational memory platform based on phase change memory devices.

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