We are on the verge of a radical new paradigm for both computer software and hardware. "Self-improving systems" will have detailed models of their own designs and will improve themselves by learning from their own operation. They will continuously adapt themselves to the tasks they need to perform. Eventually they will be able to improve every aspect of themselves: their programs, programming languages, specification logics, instruction sets, and hardware architectures. In this talk we present fundamental principles that underlie the operation of this kind of system. We show that they will be governed by a fundamental microeconomic theory first developed by von Neumann in 1944. This leads to a universal "Resource Balance Principle" by which they will optimally allocate resources to their subsystems, modules, and subprograms. It also provides the rational basis by which they will select the timing and amount of effort to devote to tasks like program compilation and data compression. Self-improvement of hardware will push toward reversible computation and atomically precise physical structures. We conclude with a discussion of some of the broader social implications of this kind of system.
About the speaker:
Steve Omohundro is president and founder of Self-Aware Systems, a think tank working to build wisdom into emerging technologies. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in physics from Berkeley. He co-developed the StarLisp programming language for the Connection Machine at Thinking Machines. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and co-founded the Center for Complex Systems Research there. He wrote the 3D graphics portion of Mathematica as one of the original 7 developers for Wolfram Research. At the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley he led an international team in developing the Sather language. There and at the NEC Research Institute in Princeton he developed a number of novel machine learning algorithms and built systems to read lips, control robots, and learn grammars. More information and contact info is available at: http://selfawaresystems.com/ and http://steveomohundro.com/.