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Running RAT OS1.0
  [vote for,

Prompted by recent discoursions on the linked idea below.

Rats - they're really pretty clever. They are also modular (integer numbers of rats), and can be trained quite easily to perform moderately complex stimulus/response routines.

I also note that there are several brands of "logic modules" available, primarily for teaching electronics. In general, these are bricks or boxes with two or more input and output terminals on them, implementing the basic logic functions such as AND, OR, XOR, NOT etc. Students plug these blocks together to create more complex logical functions such as addition, multiplication and so forth.


The Ratulator system comprises a set of standardised rat cages. Each cage contains a rat, trained to perform a basic logical operation. Inputs take the form of coloured flags which can be raised or lowered inside the cage by means of levers on the outside of the cage. Outputs take the form of levers inside the cage, which raise or lower flags on the outside. Each cage is marked clearly with the standard symbol representing the logical operation its rat performs.

Output flags and input levers are designed so that they can be coupled together by flexible connectors, so that one rat's output can be another rat's input. The same inputs and outputs also act as the human/ratchine interface.

With a couple of trained NOT rats, you can create a simple astable oscillator, limited only by the availability of reward pellets (which ensure that each rat stays on the job). Add a couple more rats (including, for instance a NOR rat and some more NOT rats), and more complex logical functions can be built up.

Or, if your pockets are deeper (or you can team up with friends who have the appropriate modules), you can create your very own rat-based calculator. Large institutions may even wish to create programmable computers; a full implementation of the Pentium4 in RatOS will require about 6-8 million modules (more if you want storage).

The possibilities are as unlimitless as your imagination!

Coming soon: Drosophila OS. Trade up for lower running costs and faster cycle-times!!!

CubeOS. Under development. Please contact your MaxCom representative to determine whether your cube- farm environment is suitable for beta-testing of CubeOS.

MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011

Expired by: Largely_20analogue_...0voice_20calculator
[MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011]

Reminiscent (but clearly different) http://plato.stanfo...tries/chinese-room/
Chinese Room argument [nineteenthly, May 20 2011]

//how lowly an organism?// http://brembs.net/learning/aplysia/
[mouseposture, May 20 2011]

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       Why does this put me in mind of Hex? It's only a skull with a dribbly candle on top and a thing that goes 'parp' away...
Alterother, May 20 2011

       One problem - continuing the association between the correct lever press and the delivery of the reward, when the system is operating (as apposed to the training period). If the reward is delivered only when the correct lever is pushed, then the hardware already 'knows' which is correct, and the rat is redundant.   

       There might be a way around that, especially considering that the reward does not need to be administered each time; I can't be bothered thinking it through now. Perhaps each rat will randomly be switched to 'training' mode, when rewards are available (the administering of the reward being controlled by a different rat, which is in 'working' mode). As long as the rats spend more time working than training, there will be some left over, usable, processing capacity.   

       The rats will, of course, not know which mode they are in, and so will press the correct lever whether or not a reward is due.
spidermother, May 20 2011

       //the hardware already 'knows' which is correct, and the rat is redundant//   

       There is an element of that (and well spotted, incidentally - I hadn't thought of it). However, I am choosing to ignore it on philosophical grounds.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011

       This would work great in implementing fuzzy logic.
neelandan, May 20 2011

       This isn't likely to render the mouse redundant anytime soon, I'm guessing.
infidel, May 20 2011

       //the hardware already 'knows' which is correct, and the rat is redundant//   

       Thinking about this a bit more, I don't see this as an issue. In a simple calculator, the input and output are connected by some sort of fixed, predetermined machinery. This is most obvious in the case of a mechanical calculator, but also true of a simple electronic calculator and, ultimately, of any computer. You put a signal in, and after a moment the inevitable happens and you get a signal out.   

       The same is true of the ratulator (or the more ambitious ratputer).   

       You could programme a ratputer to run the Game of Life, and the emergent patterns would be mechanistically inevitable but still as interesting.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011

       Isn't this what the lower classes are for?
pocmloc, May 20 2011

       I like, sounds like it'd work. Two things about this:   

       Firstly, how lowly an organism could still be trained to perform such tasks, or enter relevant states which could manifest in some way?   

       Secondly, how large could the scale of integration be? Could you train a one-bit adder, for example? A two-bit adder? What about a viper?   

       Reminds me of Searle's Chinese Room.
nineteenthly, May 20 2011

       I'm pretty sure you could do calculations on the fly.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011

       To reward the rats you would need some redundancy and put them in an array so that several rats were responding to the same stimulus or there was a check rat. You could call it RAID.   

       Would the flags operate on some kind of ratchet?
marklar, May 20 2011

       That would be irrational.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011

       [nineteenthly] regarding Searle and his Chinese Room. The problem is that Searle is a twat.   

       The first thing that strikes me about Searle relates to a guy at work who is trying to understand behaviour in nematodes (C. elegans). The full and exact map of all the neurons and other cells is known for this simple beast, and this guy is trying to understand how these circuits produce behaviour such as food-seeking, avoidance of noxious stimuli and so forth.   

       The field began with people being able to say "when this neuron fires, this muscle cell contracts and the animal turns left". But of course that wasn't a behaviour, it was a simple mechanistic process.   

       It's now advanced to the point where he can say "when the nematode is exposed to substance X, it bind receptor Y, which fires neuron Z, which fires neurons A, B and C in succession, which makes the worm turn this way and move away from the substance."   

       A few years ago, this avoidance of noxious stimuli was behaviour. Now that we understand how it works, it's not behaviour any more.   

       So the first reason that Searle is a twat is that, eventually (with a lot of luck), we will be able to explain what goes on in the brain of a Chinese interpreter in arbitrarily great detail. When this happens, Chinese interpretation will cease to be an intelligent behaviour, according to Searle.   

       The second reason Searle is a twat is basically the same as the first, but boils down the the Turing test. Turing wasn't being trivialist or reductionist when he proposed the Turing test, he was just pointing out that all the philosophical agonizing is just so much cerebral masturbation, which will never lead anywhere. (Happy though the intermediate results may be.)
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2011

       //availability of reward pellets (which ensure that each rat stays on the job)// Use a variable-ratio reward schedule, and you pellet consumption will drop nearly to zero.   

       //how lowly an organism// <link>
mouseposture, May 20 2011

       A sheep/gate computer was on my brainstorm of dissertation ideas in my final year at uni in Wales studying computer science. I decided against it as it would have meant lots of talking to farmers.
idris83, May 20 2011

       You could have called them woolly logic gates.
spidermother, May 21 2011

       Searle's argument actually does make sense, but only as a reductio ad absurdum of (natural) intelligence.
ytk, May 21 2011


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