Sunday, 30 June 2013
Greetings from TRUCE!
On behalf of the TRUCE project, welcome to the Hackademia Retreat project! TRUCE (Training and Research in Unconventional Computation in Europe) is a three-year project, generously supported by the European Commission via their Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme.
Our over-arching aim is to support, nurture and develop research and wider community-based outreach activities in the somewhat nebulous area of "unconventional computation" (UC). What actually qualifies as "UC" is an open question, but our project includes topics as diverse as quantum computing, biological engineering, and embodied computation. What researchers in all of these areas have in common is a desire to explore the boundaries of computing, not just in terms of the physical hardware (or, indeed, wetware), but to redefine the very notion of "computation". We do this by seeking alternatives to silicon (for example, using living cells as biological "micro-machines"), investigating new formalisms or computational models, using natural processes to guide the development of algorithms and structures, or asking how the idea of computation changes when it takes place as part of a physical "host" structure.
What we actively seek to avoid is navel-gazing; the temptation would be for us to play it safe, and to deliver a tidy set of standard activities and workshops. This conventional approach is clearly at odds with the very raison d'être of a project focussing on "unconventional computation", so we have, from the outset, sought to (in the slightly ungrammatical words of Apple) "think different".
The Hackademia Retreat is just one example of how we're trying to challenge the way in which research development and outreach can be successfully achieved. Another ongoing project involves seven acclaimed writers of short fiction, who will collaborate with scientists to develop a collection of stories and afterwords based on their shared vision of "Unconventional Computation in 2070".
Whether you've come to this blog as a casual visitor, or as a participant in the retreat, I hope you'll take a moment to comment on what you find, and to share your thoughts. Research is an inherently cooperative and collaborative enterprise, and you are welcome to join us. I hope that you find your involvement with TRUCE to be rewarding, challenging, and - most importantly - fun.
Best wishes for a successful retreat.
Prof. Martyn Amos
Manchester Metropolitan University