Digital materialization and synthetic life

Digital materialization (DM) is not the name of a technology from Star Trek.  According to the wikipedia page

  DM can loosely be defined as two-way direct communication or conversion between matter and information that enables people to exactly describe, monitor, manipulate and create any arbitrary real object.

I linked to the Digital Materialization Group, here is a quote from their page.

DM systems possess the following attributes:

  • realistic – correct spatial mapping of matter to information
  • exact – exact language and/or methods for input from and output to matter
  • infinite – ability to operate at any scale and define infinite detail
  • symbolic – accessible to individuals for design, creation and modification

Such an approach can be applied not only to tangible objects but can include the conversion of things such as light and sound to/from information and matter. Systems to digitally materialize light and sound already largely exist now (e.g. photo editing, audio mixing, etc.) and have been quite effective – but the representation, control and creation of tangible matter is poorly supported by computational and digital systems.

My initial interest in DM came from possible interactions with the Unlimited Detail idea, see this post written some time ago.

Well, there is much more into this idea, if we think about life forms.
In the discussion section of this  article  by Craig Venter et al. we read:

This work provides a proof of principle for producing cells based on computer-designed genome sequences. DNA sequencing of a cellular genome allows storage of the genetic instructions for life as a digital file.

In  his book Life at the speed of light  Craig Venter writes (p. 6)

All living cells run on DNA software, which directs hundreds to thousands of protein robots. We have been digitizing life for decades, since we first figured out how to read the software of life by sequencing DNA. Now we can go in the other direction by starting with computerized digital code, designing a new form of life. chemically synthesizing its DNA, and then booting it up to produce the actual organism.

That is clearly a form of Digital Materialization.

Now, we have these two realms, virtual and real, and the two way bridge between them called DM.

It would be really nice if we would have the same chemistry ruled world:

  • an artificial version for the virtual one, in direct correspondence with those parts of
  • the real version (from the real world) which are relevant for the DM translation process.

This looks like a horribly complex goal to reach, because of the myriad concrete, real stumbling blocks, but hey, this is math for, right? To simplify, to abstract, to define, to understand.

[posted also here]



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