Bee Strategy Helps Servers Run More Sweetly
Georgia Institute of Technology (11/16/07) McRainey, Megan
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a communications system for Internet servers based on the dance-based communication system bees use to divide limited resources. The new computer system allows servers that would normally be reserved for a single task to move between tasks as needed, reducing the chances that a Web site will be overwhelmed and lock out potential users. The new system helped servers improve service by 4 percent to 25 percent in real Internet traffic tests. Because bees have a limited number of workers to send out to collect pollen, scout bees are sent to find lucrative spots. These scout bees return to the hive and perform a dance to tell other bees where to find the nectar. The forager bees then dance behind the scout until they learn the right steps. Forager bees continue to follow the scout bee’s dance until the nectar runs out or they find a more attractive dance. The system allows the bees to seamlessly shift from one source to another without a leader or central command to slow the decision process. Most server systems are theoretically optimized for "normal" conditions, which frequently change due to human nature. If demand for one site surges, servers not assigned to that site may remain idle while users are put into a queue that forces them to wait for the server assigned to the site to become available. When the bee server system receives a request for a site, the system places an internal advertisement, the equivalent of the bee’s dance, to attract any available servers. The ad’s duration is determined by demand for the site and how much revenue the site’s users may generate. The longer an ad remains active, the more power available servers send to serve the Web site request.
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Scientist: ‘Hybrid’ Computers Will Meld Living Brains With Technology
Computerworld (12/03/07) Gaudin, Sharon
University of Arizona professor Charles Higgins believes that in 10 to 15 years "hybrid" computers that use a combination of technology and living organic tissue will be common consumer products. Higgins has successfully connected a moth’s brain to a robot, using the moth’s sight to tell the robot when something is approaching so it can move out of the way. Higgins says he started out trying to build a computer chip that could simulate how a brain processes visual images, but found that the chip would cost an estimated $60,000. "At that price I thought I was getting lower quality than if I was just accessing the brain of an insect which costs, well, considerably less," Higgins says. "If you have a living system, it has sensory systems that are far beyond what we can build." The 12-inch-tall robot that relies on a moth’s sight may be considered cutting edge right now, but Higgins believes that it is only the beginning of organic enhanced computers. "In future decades, this will not be surprising," says Higgins. "Most computers will have some kind of living component to them."
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