From my pen
Bruce's publications in preparation
Publications in Preparation
Recent Writings and Interviews
April 30, 2012 - Publication of Genesis-In The Beginning (Joseph Seckbach, editor) which includes a chapter "Cyberbiogenesis and the EvoGrid: a 21st Century Grand Challenge" (PDF file) by Dr. Bruce Damer, Peter Newman, Ryan Norkus, Johh Graham, Richard Gordon and Tom Barbalet. Published by Springer.
July 13, 2011 - "Dr." Bruce Damer's PhD thesis "The EvoGrid, an Approach to Computational Origin of Life Endeavours" (4MB PDF File) which was defended on July 13, 2011 at University College Dublin, Ireland.
May 2011 - A second poster on "CREATR: a complex, multistage model for the origin of life" (PDF file) by Bruce Damer (University College Dublin), Peter Newman, Ryan Norkus. Accepted and presented at the Origins 2011 Conference in Montpellier, France in July, 2011.
April 2011 - Poster on "The EvoGrid: in silico simulation grid for origin of life endeavours" (PDF file) by Bruce Damer, Peter Newman, Ryan Norkus, Miroslav Karpis – UC Dublin & DigitalSpace and John Graham - Calit2, University of California at San Diego. Accepted and presented at the Origins 2011 Conference in Montpellier, France in July, 2011.
January 28, 2010 -CBS News / CNET interviewed Bruce on James Cameron's film Avatar in Getting a Peek at Future of Virtual Worlds. Read his full interview with Daniel Terdiman here at CNET.
Book launched! Divine Action and Natural Selection - Science, Faith and Evolution (Seckbach and Gordon, Editors) with a chapter by Bruce Damer "The God Detector" (November 2008)
Review: The God Detector, A Thought Experiment.
By David Fazo
Ask the average man on the street where one might detect evidence of the hand of God and he might point out a beautiful child, a blossoming tree, a crowded church. But if the man you ask happens to be technologist Bruce Damer, don’t be surprised if you wind up in front of a computer screen, knee deep in a sea of primordial code and desperately feeling for God’s hand in the uncertainty oozing about your feet.
In his contribution to the tome, Divine Action and Natural Selection, Bruce Damer stays true to the collection’s subtitle, Science, Faith and Evolution, as he transports the reader through the looking glass and into a virtual world where the big questions and ancient mysteries are set to endure an inquisition of binary proportions. It is a place, an artificial place said to be devoid of our most disruptive inclinations, where science guides, evolution reveals, and faith awaits a final showdown.
The God Detector, though offered as a thought experiment, seems to be more than that as Damer, in addition to revealing how pioneers in Artificial Life (A-life) might deploy their powerful microprocessors and simulation programs to mimic Natural Selection, also makes it clear that techie ingenuity and enthusiasm, like religious doctrine and devotion, are no substitute for a disciplined scientific approach to solving serious questions. The nascent state of A-life, where the divide between serious research and fun and games may never be settled, will be best served by stewards with a soft spot for dreams and a hard skepticism for science.
Demonstrating that there is nothing inherently “fact-free” about A-life, Damer explains how and for what purposes Nature’s copying mechanism has been put to work in simulation projects aimed at creating evolution in the virtual world. Though the task of getting it right is daunting, the scientific and industrial possibilities that come with a well-crafted simulation are exciting, offering the promise of not only new, evolving forms of A-life, but of a form someday achieving what Damer calls “onset opacity,” a level of evolved complexity sufficient to mask its origins from even the most ardent of investigators (or, in the case of industrial espionage, the most gifted of reverse-engineering teams).
The idea of using computer programming to detect God is an intriguing one and Damer, demonstrating his methodological chops, offers strategies to employ and places to look before he systematically eviscerates them and narrows the search to that sea of primordial code where, in the fog of human interpretation, God and Natural Selection become indistinguishable; where what is observed will, no surprise, depend on the observer.
For me, The God Detector proved to be an eye-opener as I was previously ignorant that important questions might be pursued using a technology I’d dismissed as fun and games for people who weren’t particularly good at fun and games. Damer makes a good case for A-life as an important field of study, and in his imaginative approach to meeting the formidable objectives of Divine Action and Natural Selection, he found a way to produce a stimulating and engaging piece.
David Fazo, April 2009
Recent thoughts - Sparking life in the Quantum Algorithmic Universe? (August 22, 2007)
As I prepare to start the next phase of the DigitalSpace efforts by contributing its open source platform Digital Spaces (DSS) to the Biota project for "hyperevolution" experimentation, the following thought came. While reading Seth Lloyd's new book "Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos" it suddenly came to me that one way to "seed the cosmos" with life is to take a serious shortcut, instead of going outwards, ie: to propagate Earth-derived life forms, engineered and evolved out of bulk matter and chemistry, to gradually start to live out in the solar system on icy (cometary) objects or Near Earth Objects, one could instead "seed the very small" and generate life at the quantum-algorithmic level. One might agree that the path to this is through a set of lifelike algorithms that would first run on traditional silicon-based computing substrates then be "ported" to a quantum computing substrate. What would be a consequence of running these "game of life" algorithms on a quantum mechanical computer? Well, instead of the code being only able to execute within the atoms of a slowly developing macro forms, the code would instead evolve and propagate throughout the quantum medium. Thus the life forms that take hold at this level would be able to adapt to different gravity, molecular composition of the local environment, and even energy levels including temperature. Life at this level would be able to spread across ordinary boundaries (such as planetary gravity wells, or the vaccuum) and out across the universe everywhere there exists a suitable quantum mechanical information medium.
Having evolved to coopt the quantum informational medium to the processes of life, the new forms of life would start to transform the entire universe. This would become visible and apparent after a time through observable changes in the basic properties of matter and energy. It could be that the dual goals of creating a conscious entity out of the all matter and energy as well as the slowing of the cosmic expansion and unification of the entire universe within that conscious entity could both be achieved through this "back door". Our species, having discovered the quantum computing nature of the universe and the ability to embody life processes in algorithms able to execute in this quantum mechanical environment, would be able to effect this phase transition between ordinary quantum algorithmic matter and life-infused quantum algorithmic reality.
Would such a life-infused universe become conscious? Is such a universe already present? What would our fate be during and following this phase transition? These are all big questions.
Bruce Damer, 22 Aug 2007
More writings at DigitalSpace's online archive other writings and interviews to do with Virtual Worlds, Space and 3D
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