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TEDxUCL - PETER BENTLEY - The sound of numbers crunching

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Published on Jul 4, 2012

Peter Bentley is a maverick computer scientist who investigates the boundaries between nature and computation. He and his group work with natural scientists of many disciplines to untangle and exploit the complexities of biological systems using novel computer technologies. An active scientist at UCL, he makes his living through writing -- he is author of eight books, including the popular science texts: 'Digital Biology', 'The Book of Numbers', 'The Undercover Scientist' and his most recent book, 'Digitized'. Peter also accidentally created a number one best selling iPhone app.

Talk: The sound of numbers crunching
Your brain is physical. Your thoughts are made from physical, embodied neurons. You are robust to damage and perfectly adapted to living in your environment. But what are the thoughts of your computer made from? Virtual software? Why is this artificial thinking machine so prone to failure? Why do all our technologies seem so badly adapted to their environments? In this talk, Peter explores the differences between biological systems and our man-made technologies. He illustrates how the technology of biology works using principles that are mind-twistingly weird to us. Using examples from his research lab, he also asks what our technology would look like if we learned from natural systems. Could we ever have everyday products that behaved like living systems? Would we have computers that could regrow their code if they were damaged? Would we have technologies that could design and build themselves? Could we create an embodied mathematics that uses reality to compute?

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