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Automating Invention is Robert Plotkin's blog on the impact of computer-automated inventing on the future of invention and patent law.

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June 30, 2009

Genie in the Machine Published in India

The Genie in the Machine continues its worldwide tour with its publication in India this month by Penguin Books India. Thanks to everyone at Penguin for bringing the book to press.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the book for review in a publication or blog in India, or would like to order a batch of customized editions for your company or organization in India, please let me know. Otherwise, individual copies of the book are available online directly from the publisher.

Posted by Robert at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)
category: Genie in the Machine

June 29, 2009

GA Gaming Coming to the App Store

Genetic algorithms (GA) have entered into the video game arena with Firemint's new highly anticipated Real Racing simulator, soon to be launched for the iPhone. Rather than using the traditional hardcoded method where drivers in the game are programmed to get better and better, Real Racing uses GAs to simulate more life-like opponents.

"What is great about genetic algorithms (GA) is that they produce AI that is much smarter, but also more human like," explains Firemint CEO Rob Murray. "What isn't so good (as we have discovered) is that just like good human players, they misbehave and find exploits."

Examples of these exploits include driving on the grass at high speeds and entering curves without braking and then bouncing off the racetrack walls. Firemint has had to address these issues, just as real race officials often have to reign in real race drivers. The fine tuning required for Real Racer's GA has led to a delay in its release, but there is the promise of a heightened gaming experience.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 7:01 PM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention | Evolutionary Computation

June 27, 2009

Your Desktop Supercomputer

In a recent blog post, Nick Jones forecasts a time in the not-too-distant future when home computers will have acquired the processing power and memory capacity of today's supercomputers. Jones ponders the question of what people will do with all that computing power. While some have suggested that the future of home computing lies in massive computer centers which home users will connect to, Jones doesn't think network technology will be advanced enough to support the resulting huge increase in data transmissions. Instead, he thinks today's PC will be beefed up to supercomputer levels.

Jones suggests that home supercomputers could make use of genetic algorithms (GA). He suggests that a variant of GA known as genetic programming (GP) could be used to evolve programs which solve problems. To put it simply, a home supercomputer would take a fitness function which determines what defines the best program to solve a problem and then use GP to 'breed' various solution programs until the best match was found.

Jones suggests that companies that have an interest in personal computers, including Intel and Microsoft, should start investing in the development of GA and GP tools for the mass market.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 6:43 PM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention | Evolutionary Computation

June 25, 2009

Upcoming Keynote Speech on Invention Automation at GECCO 2009 in Montreal

I am going to be giving a keynote speech on invention automation and The Genie in the Machine at this year's Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) in Montreal on July 10 at 2:10pm. In the talk I will discuss how the work of people in the fields of genetic and evolutionary computation raises thorny problems for patent law, and provide an outline of the solutions that I propose in The Genie in the Machine.

It is an honor to be given the opportunity to give this talk, in light of the fact that I first met many of the people who I interviewed for The Genie in the Machine at a GECCO conference a few years ago. Without exception they were generous with their time, and their contributions made it possible to demonstrate in the book that invention automation is a real and growing phenomenon. I am looking forward not only to sharing my thoughts with them on the need to reform patent law in light of their work, but also to learn from them about the latest developments in the use of genetic and evolutionary computation as tools for automated inventing.

Posted by Robert at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)
category: Genie in the Machine

Alogrithmic Systems Biology

An article entitled "Algorithmic Systems Biology" in Communications of the ACM (access to full article requires a paid subscription) describes a relatively new inter-disciplinary field of study. Systems biology focuses on the study of interactions in biological systems from a holistic perspective. One of the goals in using the systemic view approach is discovering new emergent properties that provide a better understanding of processes in a biological system. Mathematical modeling via computer algorithms is one of the foundations of systems biology. The article describes how this approach differs from other approaches which use equations.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 3:56 PM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention

June 23, 2009

A New Evolutionary Computing Platform

A group of researchers at the Madrid Polytechnic University (UPM) are developing an evolutionary computing platform which will optimize the search for solutions to complex scientific and engineering problems. The researchers have devised a methodology known as MOS which intelligently combines different evolutionary algorithms and uses the best solution from each. The evolutionary models used by MOS include genetic algorithms, estimation distribution algorithms, and techniques of differential evolution.

The evolutionary computing platform will produce results which are applicable to many fields, including molecular chemistry, materials resistance, robotics and games theory.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 3:50 PM | Comments (0)
category: Evolutionary Computation

June 21, 2009

The EDLUT Nervous System Simulator

Researchers at the University of Granada have developed a simulator which is able to reproduce any part of the human nervous system. The EDLUT system (for "Event Driven LookUp Table") will aid in study of the nervous system in relation to new pathologies and diseases and to test new medicines. The simulator will also be used to improve the design of robots and machines which attempt to replicate the nervous system. The simulator is an advance over previous systems such as NEURON and GENESIS in its ability to simulate several hundred thousand neurons at once. The EDLUT software is open source and can be downloaded from the Internet.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention

June 19, 2009

The Competitive Edge in Simulation Technology

According to a report from the World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC), today's supercomputers have enabled increasingly powerful simulations, producing rapid advances in science and engineering. This has led to an increased demand for programmers who can work with the multiprocessor architecture of supercomputers, and the U.S. has too few skilled programmers to meet the demand. As more programmers and national programs become available abroad, the competitive position of the U.S. in simulation-driven fields is being eroded. More details on the report are available on the National Science Foundation website.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 2:17 AM | Comments (0)
category: Technology Industry

June 17, 2009

The ICARO Aeronautical Design Project

The ICARO project has been undertaken by the Basque corporation Tecnalia and the Spanish corporation Aernnova to develop Multidisciplinary Optimization (MDO) software to optimize the design of aircraft wings. The goal of the project is to reduce design variables such as manufacturing costs and weight and to develop innovations in aeronautical structures in composites for future aeronautical programs.

The design process for aircraft wings is complex, requiring diverse factors such as mechanical loads, vibrations, fluid dynamics, and temperature to be balanced against viability and cost. MDO software aids the process by repeatedly calculating factors such as heat flow temperatures, finding valid designs, and then factoring in variables such as weight and cost.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 2:12 AM | Comments (0)
category: Design & Engineering

Interview About Invention Automation on Nolo Press Blog

Rich Stim of the Nolo Press Patent, Copyright & Trademark Blog interviewed me about The Genie in the Machine and has posted the audio of the interview on the blog. Rich asked some great questions about how invention automation technology works and its implications for the future of patent law.

Posted by Robert at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention | Genie in the Machine

June 15, 2009

More Supercomputer Time for Simulation Research

Wired Science reports that starting in 2010, the Department of Energy will make available to the science community at large additional processor time on two of its supercomputers. A total of 1.3 billion processor hours will be set aside on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Cray XT "Jaguar" and Argonne National Laboratory's IBM Blue Gene/P "Intrepid." These two supercomputers are among the most powerful in the world and are dedicated to open scientific research. The additional research hours will allow astrophysicists, biologists, and other scientists to perform complex simulations involving multiple simultaneous physical phenomena.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 1:57 AM | Comments (0)
category: Design & Engineering

June 14, 2009

BusinessWeek Touts Cust-Cutting Ability of Automated Inventing

A new article in BusinessWeek points out that as "recession-racked companies search for ways to cut costs, some are rediscovering automated innovation." Although some early attempts at automated inventing years ago did not live up to original expectations, increases in computing power and improvements in invention automation techniques themselves are now enabling businesses to use the latest technology to create new products and improve business processes more efficiently than ever before.

The article confirms one of the theses of The Genie in the Machine, namely that the most recent advances in artificial invention technology are no longer merely academic curiosities. Instead, they are ready for use by businesses to solve cutting-edge problems while reducing the cost of innovation at the same time.

Posted by Robert at 6:02 PM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention | Genie in the Machine

June 13, 2009

Algorithms which Automate Creativity

In the Journal of Genetic Progamming and Evolvable Machines, a paper entitled Incorporating characteristics of human creativity into an evolutionary art algorithm examines computer-generated art and design software which uses an evolutionary approach. This software usually relies on human intervention to select the 'best' of two variants and determine the makeup of the next generation. The paper's authors, Steve DiPaola and Liane Gabora, discuss ways in which the software can incorporate this human intervention into its algorithms, automating one more step of human creativity.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 7:02 PM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention | Evolutionary Computation | Human Creativity

June 12, 2009

Guest Blogging on the Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog

Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm in Boston has posted the first of four guest blog postings that I have written on invention automation on his Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog. Although a blog written by an expert on ERISA and insurance litigation may not seem a likely home for information on invention automation and its impact on patent law, Steve is also an experienced intellectual property litigator and has written frequently on his blog about patent law and other issues related to intellectual property.

Stay tuned to Steve's blog every Friday for the next few weeks for follow-up postings from me on the impact of invention automation for patent law.

Posted by Robert at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)
category: Genie in the Machine

June 11, 2009

AI and Future Enterprise

In Future Enterprise - the Intelligent Enterprise Revolution, futurist David Tow discusses the state of artificial intelligence in relation to e-commerce and global competitiveness. Tow lists the most promising AI trends as evolutionary or genetic algorithms, bayesian networks, fuzzy logic, swarm intelligence, neural networks, and intelligent agents.

Tow cites four major trends which are now emerging in relation to AI and the intelligent enterprise revolution:

1. AI is being used more frequently in e-commerce to achieve higher quality decision outcomes.
2. AI is moving up the decision chain to strategic and senior management levels.
3. AI techniques are being linked and used in more powerful combinations.
4. AI is beginning to leverage web intelligence from social networks, search services, and semantic applications.

See his article for more details and for his predictions on future trends. There is also an interesting analysis of Tow's ideas on the Genetic Argonaut.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 6:49 PM | Comments (0)
category: Artificial Invention | Evolutionary Computation | Work

June 9, 2009

Crowdsourcing with The Energy Crowd

The Energy Crowd is a crowdsourcing web site which is attempting to create new sustainable energy technologies by gathering input from engineers, designers and the general public. The goal is to bring together individuals who might otherwise be working in isolation. Participants may be highly skilled but are working without remuneration. A project which is currently underway is the design of a solar heating system for the home which will capture energy from sunlight during the summer and store it to heat the home during the fall and winter. If a commercially-viable solution is arrived upon, it will be made available via a General Public License (GPL).

The site also publishes online a collection of news and information about sustainable energy called 101 Ways to Kick the Carbon Habit.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)
category: Design & Engineering | Human Creativity

June 7, 2009

In re Bilski: Ten Reasons Why

In re Bilski is an en banc decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on the patenting of method claims, particularly business methods. The Bilski petition for certiorari has been discussed here in an earlier post. Erick Arner, co-author of the petition, has written an interesting guest post on the Patently-O blog which lists ten reasons why the Supreme Court should hear the Bilski case.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 7:09 PM | Comments (0)
category: Intellectual Property Law | Software Patents

June 3, 2009

The Futurist Magazine Features Invention Automation as Cover Story

My article on the automation of invention has landed as the cover story in the July-August issue of The Futurist magazine. You can purchase a print copy of the whole magazine through the Futurist web site, or buy a PDF of the article online for download.


Posted by Robert at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)
category: Administrative | Genie in the Machine