05
Jan
09

As a Gage* of the Success of our Technology

It seems perfectly reasonable to imagine (immediately) the construction of a computer program for describing (visually) what an eye should see. 3D Rendering programs don’t count because they work by shapes first and not by trying to find rhyme and reason out of a visual signal from the eye.  But, one should be able to describe a system through mathematics, i.e. by laying equations on top of each other, and we should be able to handle at least one light source with which to spout single photons (as wave functions) and create a pointillistic image by summation. We should have good sources of random numbers. With enough computing power this should be possible on a large enough scale to cover at least some of the situations our eyes get into. And then we could perhaps try to describe the peculiarities of the eye (floaters, what we see when our eyes are closed, how things look out of focus, fringe patterns), and it would be a way of matching biology to physics.

 

* It was pointed out to me that Gauge is probably the form of the word most commonly used in English.  Merriam-Webster lists Gage as a variation. I am not entirely sure why but it seems the some of the sciences (at least physics) at the institutions I’ve worked at primarily use Gage (some of the equipment seems to have a preference as in “Strain Gage,” a resistor which has a resistance that varies with applied “strain”).

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8 Responses to “As a Gage* of the Success of our Technology”


  1. 1 blueandalusia
    January 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    “with enough computing power…” Isn’t any computation technically possible with enough computing power? This is the idea of the Turing Machine, anyway. Though, I think the real question in this situation is: what this would do for us, exactly, to be able to simulate the human eye with that degree of accuracy? Wouldn’t we also need to be able to simulate the brain? This would bring us to an even more complicated place, talking about the mathematics of sentient experience.

    Maybe, though, I am over thinking this. What would some of the benefits be?

  2. 2 johuat
    January 6, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Do you mean “solvable” here? There are equations that can be solved on paper, equations that take years of computers using brute force (i.e. semi-random) methods to find solutions to, equations that have no solution at all, and equations we aren’t even sure can be solved or not. In theory, with enough computing power, we can go and solve any solvable equation. But physics doesn’t even know how to deal with a three particle system when gravity is involved, so any program like I’m proposing would require a lot of approximating.

    We don’t need to know how the brain works in order to explain most of what the eye does, just an understanding of optics. We also know how the eye is constructed, but I don’t know how much of that we take into account in explaining what we see – I think this program would be enormously useful in expanding the model of the eye. Consider designing the program – it would involve a lot of biology and physics, and I don’t think anyone would expect it to work terribly well from the start. The process of tweaking and improving the program is what I’m imagining would provide the most knowledge.

  3. 3 butttub
    January 7, 2009 at 5:53 am

    will this benefit from quantum computing? when will you develop quantum computing and make enough money to buy ghost island a proper domain name and a new football stadium?

  4. 4 johuat
    January 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    It probably would benefit from Quantum Computing, if only for the simple reason that what I’m proposing would take an awful lot of computer power to operate. With a very rough estimate, I’d say there are at least 35 million billion billion particles in your eye. You would have to be able to deal with a very large portion of that number, even if you only wanted to compute a rough approximation. Our current computers can’t do anything on that scale but the sizes that they can deal with are getter larger all the time. If I had a working quantum computer, I’m sure I could sell it for an unbelievable amount of money, some of which I would throw your way.

  5. 5 blueandalusia
    January 7, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    well, I don’t mean “solved” so much as I wanted to bring up the idea of the Turing Machine (I wrote that last comment, badly, while stranded and cracked out in an airport), which seems to be based on the idea that with enough memory and power, a discrete-state computer can calculate or simulate anything.

    Then, maybe this is another reason quantum computing could be helpful, as, if I’m not wrong, it wouldn’t be discrete-state, binary-style computing. Which might open a lot of avenues.

  6. 6 johuat
    January 7, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    The Turing Machine is a very specific type of ideal machine. It only works with logic or math. It can approximate any machine that also deals in logic and math. But there are reasons why it cannot solve everything: If you were to believe the Turing Machine solved everything then you would have to believe everything is explainable by math and logic. But Gödel was able to demonstrate that any system of logic/math is either incomplete or has statements which cannot be proven. It’s a terrific and complicated theorem but one that we think is true. And, in an eerie parallel, Quantum Mechanics says there are parts to nature that do not seem to operate based on math and logic – they seem to be inherently random. How would you program inherent randomness into a Turing machine? That is to say, if you tried to replicate the results of our observances with such a machine, you would have to derive your randomness from elsewhere.

    Quantum computers may be a huge leap in computing power, and further applications like quantum encryption would also offer us things we’ve never had before but, they cannot solve anything conventional computers cannot, they just allow us to do the same kinds of computations faster. This opens up the possibility of accomplishing things that simply take a huge amount of computation, like breaking standard encryption methods, which were never truly unsolvable but just very difficult.

  7. 7 blueandalusia
    January 8, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Hm.

  8. 8 Luckycloud
    January 12, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I think I’ve been out-talled on this one.


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