Troy, N.Y. Since the idea of using DNA to create faster, smaller, and more powerful computers originated in 1994, scientists have been scrambling to develop successful ways to use genetic code for computation. Now, new research from a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute suggests that if we want to carry out artificial computations, all we have to do is literally look around.
Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science Mark Changizi has begun to develop a technique to turn our eyes and visual system into a programmable computer. His findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal Perception.
Harnessing the computing power of our visual system, according to Changizi, requires visually representing a computer program in such a way that when an individual views the representation, the visual system naturally carries out the computation and generates a perception.
Ideally, we would be able to glance at a complex visual stimulus (the software program), and our visual system (the hardware) would automatically and effortlessly generate a perception, which would inform us of the output of the computation, Changizi said.
Changizi has begun successfully applying his approach by developing visual representations of digital circuits. A large and important class of computations used in calculators, computers, phones, and most of today's electronic products, digital circuits are constructed from assemblies of logic gates, and always have an output value of zero or one.
"A digital circuit needs wire in order to transmit signals to different parts of the circuit. The 'wire' in a visual representation of a digital circuit is part of the drawing itself, which can be perceived only in two ways," said Changizi, who created visual stimuli to elicit perceptions of an object tilted toward (an output of one) or away (an output of zero) from the viewer. "An input to a digital circuit is a zero or one. Similarly, a
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute