From Complex Living Systems to Smarter Computers

The European Commission is funding a project in Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands that will study complex living systems and apply its findings to technological systems, particularly robot swarms. The SWAM-ORGAN project aims to understand systems such as cells creating an organ and technologically replicate their ability to cope with the unexpected. The project focuses on systems containing many simple, autonomous agents that collectively organize themselves into complex spatial arrangements despite each agent having only local awareness. Such agents handle conflict or damage by acting locally in the best interest of the system as a whole. The researchers will investigate gene regulatory networks as a control method for these systems, aiming to develop a theoretical framework about distributed adaptive control. “Although we originally came from the biological questions of embryo development, I’ve been increasingly fascinated by the potential similarities between multicellular organs and robot swarms,” says project coordinator James Sharpe. “The plan is that this project will be equally relevant to both fields, by focusing on the underlying organizational principles.”

More info: Center for Genomic Regulation (03/19/13)

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