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Recurrence

30 Mar 2017, 20:23 UTC
Recurrence
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Most oklo.org readers know the story line of Fred Hoyle’s celebrated 1957 science fiction novel, The Black Cloud. An opaque, self-gravitating mass of gas and dust settles into the solar system, blots out the sun, and wreaks havoc on the biosphere. It gradually becomes clear that the cloud itself is sentient. Scientists mount an attempt to communicate. A corpus of basic scientific and mathematical principles is read out loud in English, voice-recorded, and transmitted by radio to the cloud.
The policy was successful, too successful. Within two days the first intelligible reply was received. It read:
“Message received. Information slight. Send more.”
For the next week almost everyone was kept busy reading from suitably chosen books. The readings were recorded and then transmitted. But always, there came short replies demanding more information, and still more information…
Sixty years later, communicating interstellar clouds are still in the realm of fiction, but virtualized machines networked in the cloud are increasingly dictating the course of actions in the real world.
In Hoyle’s novel, the initial interactions with the Black Cloud are quite reminiscent of a machine learning task. The cloud acts as a neural network. Employing the information uploaded in the training set, ...

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