SPiM: Harbinger of the Autoverse

In the sci-fi novel Permutation City (see my book review here), there is a simulation program called, Autoverse
— "an artificial life simulator ultimately based on cellular automaton
complex enough to represent the substratum of an artificial chemistry."

I was reminded by the Autoverse when I read Cosmic Log’s report on the latest Microsoft TechFest.
Aside from the much awaited WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft research and development
team had created a visual programming language called, Stochastic Pi Machine (SPiM),
"to help biology researchers analyze how cells do their work. The
program can take a tangled chemical pathway and figure out what
quantities of which proteins should be produced by that pathway." Using
SPiM, researchers "can compare the predicted outcome of a biological
process with the actual results of their experiment, to find out if
their model for the process is correct. Someday, the simulations might
even suggest new strategies for countering cancer or developing
new drugs."

Nice. Imagine what people could do with SPiM (and similar future programming languages) once quantum computing has become ubiquitous. Permutation City is becoming an eerie possibility.

Microsoft Research / msnbc.com

Click for video: Msnbc.com’s Alan Boyle narrates
animations from Microsoft Research that represent
cellular signaling pathways at work.