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Dennis Shasha: Nature Can Improve Our Computers

By Guardian

August 23, 2010

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New York University (NYU) computer science professor Dennis Shasha thinks the future of computing lies in a synthesis with nature. Shasha says that as computers become more mobile and autonomous—either by creating their own power from the environment, using long battery life, or wireless signals—the mechanisms that nature uses become more relevant. He believes the next big leap in computing will be machines that are programmed to behave in evolutionary-like ways.

Shasha says that supporters of the "synthesis between biology and computing have been around for some time, but it's only now that they are coming together in different fields." For example, he cites Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Rodney Brooks, who developed a team of simple robots that do not use a lot of computing power but can achieve things other robots cannot because they do not have a strict set of guidelines in their programming.

Shasha also notes that NYU chemist Ned Seeman has built controllable robots out of DNA that can detect bacteria.

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