X-Message-Number: 25565
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 13:47:14 +0100
From: Henri Kluytmans <>
Subject: Re : The Limpinwood X-Prize

Peter Merel writes :

>I read that butterfly nervous systems have less than 3,000 neurons. Not 
>1 billion, like De Garis's planned "brain". Not even 75,000 like his 
>Xilinx models. Just 3,000, and most of them don't even control flight 
>muscles. But their interconnections can be mapped, if you like. It just 
>takes a microscope and some patience. Plus the willingness to undertake 
>the bad karma necessary to kill and dissect one of those little 

As far as I know, brains of the order of millions of neurons is 
the general size for an insect brain. With maybe each neuron having 
on average a 1000 connections to other neurons, this would be 
one billion connections to be mapped. But then you still would 
have to determine their strengths (the weight factors). This can 
not be done with a light microscope. I my opinion, mapping the brain 
of an insect is still infeasible right now. 

In my statements (of scanning brains for simulations/uploading) 
I was referring to a time (maybe 30 years in the future) when 
advanced MNT (including molecular disassemblers) would be available.

>It seems to me that the job of the butterfly orienting itself in a 
>breeze in a paddock is considerably easier than the job of an autodoc 
>orienting itself in a Brownian motion field in a living cell. 

Brownian motion is not a major problem for nanobots. A typical 
nanobot will be at least one micrometer in size. It could be 
containing on the order of 10^11 atoms. Likely most of these 
will be C-atoms. The weight of such a nanobot would be about 
10^12 atomic units. The weight of a water molecule is about 
10^11 time less. Furthermore impacts from multiple water molecules 
coming from different directions will average each other out. 
Therefore disruption of the path of a nanobot caused by impacting 
water molecules due to thermal motion can be neglected.

>After all the autodoc can't use vision. 

The nanobot could use randomly directed motion (probably 
propelled in a mechanic way) and wait until it detects the 
surface of cell. Special molecular markers on the outside of 
biological cell will tell the nanobot which type of cell it 
has found. It could then stay attached to the outside of the 
cell, and a robotic arm (more like a slurf) with a probe at 
the end could enter the cell to perform operations.
These last would also use molecular detectors (like protein 
antibodies) to do their scanning work.

>Therefore I'm offering a prize to the first artificial 
>neurologist who can achieve this task with under 3,000 neurons.

Hmm, maybe I will offer a bigger price. Because I too, think
this cant be done...

>I'll offer you a night in my B&B here at Limpinwood. I'll even throw in 
>dinner. You can think of it as the ANN version of the Ansari X-prize. 
>You don't even have to use butterfly wings - an RC helicopter would be 
>as good. It just has to take off from a random spot in a breeze in my 

Theoretically it should be possible to do it, when you can at least use
the same number of neurons that butterflies have. But I think it is not 
a trivial task. So a much higher price seems more appropiate.


Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=25565