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Given how brittle our real-world computer systems get when they get big, there's an immediate motivation to explore any alternative that might make them more reliable. I've suggested that we call the alternative approach to software that I've outlined above “Phenotropic.” Pheno- refers to outward manifestations, as in phenotype. -Tropic originally meant “Turning,” but has come to mean “Interaction.” So Phenotropic means “The interaction of surfaces.” It's not necessarily biomimetic, but who's to say, since we don't understand the brain yet. My colleague Christoph von der Marsburg, a neuroscientist of vision, has founded a movement called “Biological Computing” which exists mostly in Europe, and is more explicitly biomimetic, but is essentially similar to what some of us are calling “Phenotropics” here in the States.

There are two sides to Phenotropic investigation, one concerned with engineering and the other with scientific and philosophical explorations.

JaronLanier in

(potentially) related

coordination languages

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