[Open Manufacturing] Dave Gingery and some more bootstrapping stuff

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Bryan Bishop

unread,
Dec 18, 2008, 4:13:26 PM12/18/08
to openmanufacturing, kan...@gmail.com
Hey all,

The short version: I've realized that I've totally forgotten that I
had access to a lot of Gingery-content via my gingery_machines mailing
list subscription, so here it is:

http://heybryan.org/books/Manufacturing/gingery.zip (warning: 60 MB)
There's also a directory at: /books/Manufacturing/gingery/ where you
can see the files.

The (active) gingery_machines mailing list is at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gingery_machines/

I first learned about Dave Gingery from Kevin Kelly:
http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2007/03/bootstrapping_t.php
(Another article of his worth reading and on topic is re:
civilizations as creatures:
http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2006/03/civilizations_a.php )

"Recently a guy re-invented the fabric of industrial society in his
garage. The late Dave Gingery was a midnight machinist in Springfield,
Missouri who enjoyed the challenge of making something from nothing,
or perhaps it is more accurate to say, making very much by leveraging
the power of very little. Over years of tinkering, Gingery was able to
bootstrap a full-bore machine shop from alley scraps. He made rough
tools that made better tools, which then made tools good enough to
make real stuff."

But really, if you haven't read that Kevin Kelly article, you really
should. It's about technology dependency trees and networks and why
you might think you see straight into the future of tech, when you're
missing out on all of the actual details. etc. One day when Googling
for that article or Gingery, earlier this year, I met Ben, and
proceeded to complain to him about his server being down or something.
Paul, too, has mentioned a pipedream of buying the publisher who holds
the Gingery books these days. Can't say I blame him (see link below).
It's too bad there's no Gingery Institute, although BFI sounds
conceptually close enough I guess.

http://www.lindsaybks.com/dgjp/djgbk/index.html

Anyway, if we had a bug report system, I'd file "BUG: Gingery machines
[still] not packaged yet". Maybe I'll get some copies of his books and
trudge through it and do the proper packaging soon.

- Bryan
http://heybryan.org/
1 512 203 0507

Bryan Bishop

unread,
Dec 18, 2008, 4:35:13 PM12/18/08
to openmanufacturing, kan...@gmail.com
On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 3:13 PM, Bryan Bishop <kan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I first learned about Dave Gingery from Kevin Kelly:
> http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2007/03/bootstrapping_t.php
> (Another article of his worth reading and on topic is re:
> civilizations as creatures:
> http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2006/03/civilizations_a.php )
>
> "Recently a guy re-invented the fabric of industrial society in his
> garage. The late Dave Gingery was a midnight machinist in Springfield,
> Missouri who enjoyed the challenge of making something from nothing,
> or perhaps it is more accurate to say, making very much by leveraging
> the power of very little. Over years of tinkering, Gingery was able to
> bootstrap a full-bore machine shop from alley scraps. He made rough
> tools that made better tools, which then made tools good enough to
> make real stuff."

Hm. That second kk.org link, I think, is the wrong one. Let's try this one:

http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2006/02/the_forever_boo.php

"I've been thinking of civilization (the technium) as a life form, as
a self-replicating structure. I began to wonder what is the smallest
seed into which you could reduce the "genes" of civilization, and have
it unfold again, sufficient that it could also make another seed
again. That is, what is the smallest seed of the technium that is
viable? It must be a seed able to grow to reproduction age and express
itself as a full-fledge civilization and have offspring itself --
another replicating seed.

This seed would most likely be a library full of knowledge and perhaps
tools. Many libraries now contain a lot of what we know about our
culture and technology, and even a little bit of how to recreate it,
but this library would have to accurately capture all the essential
knowledge of cultural self-reproduction. It is important to realize
that this seed library is not the universal library of everything we
know. Rather, it is a kernel that contains that which cannot be
replicated and that which when expanded can recover what we know."

Anyway, somewhere in his bloggings he specifically relates the nucleus
of the civilization creature as the self-replicating library of tools,
information and culture, in the sense of von Neumann probes:

Implementation notes on von Neumann probes
http://heybryan.org/projects/atoms/ (ok, it's old)
"The basic idea of a von Neumann probe is to have a space-probe that
is able to navigate the galaxy and use self-replication (see RepRap
and bio). The probe would contain hundreds of thousands of digital
genomes (sequenced DNA), DNA synthesizers and sequencers, bacteria,
embryos, stem cells, copies of the Internet Archive and a significant
portion of the WWW in general, plus the immediate means and tools to
copy all of the information and create a material embodiment, kind of
like running an unzip utility on top of the thousands of exabytes
predicted to be inexistence today. This would probably include many
people, societies, even entire civilizations if we can collect enough
data and begin to 'debug' civilization. The system might end up using
an ion drive and a hydrogen collector, with on-board nucleosynthesis
to create the biomolecules necessary for life, plus ways to attach to
asteroids and begin replicating and copying the data and
biomaterials."

von Neumann replicator award/prize:
http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~douglasr/prize/

"The Prize

So what needs to be done to bring these two things together?

1) Show that 90 % of a self assembling robotic system can be
fabricated using a rapid prototyping system that can also self
replicate

2 )Show that 90 % of the assembly from parts of a rapid prototyping
system can be done by a robotic system that can also self assemble."

**but** Freitas clearly outlines the issue of closure engineering that
shouldn't be ignored in his KSRM book and AASM report:

http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/msg/4ff7a92e2425dde2
http://www.islandone.org/MMSG/aasm/AASM53.html#536
http://www.molecularassembler.com/KSRM/5.6.htm

Which I'll quote from again:

================

Fundamental to the problem of designing self-replicating systems is
the issue of closure.

In its broadest sense, this issue reduces to the following question:
Does system function (e.g., factory output) equal or exceed system
structure (e.g., factory components or input needs)? If the answer is
negative, the system cannot independently fully replicate itself; if
positive, such replication may be possible.

Consider, for example, the problem of parts closure. Imagine that the
entire factory and all of its machines are broken down into their
component parts. If the original factory cannot fabricate every one of
these items, then parts closure does not exist and the system is not
fully self-replicating .

In an arbitrary system there are three basic requirements to achieve closure:
Matter closure - can the system manipulate matter in all ways
necessary for complete self-construction?
Energy closure - can the system generate sufficient energy and in the
proper format to power the processes of self-construction?
Information closure can the system successfully command and control
all processes required for complete self-construction?

Partial closure results in a system which is only partially
self-replicating. Some vital matter, energy, or information must be
provided from the outside or the machine system will fail to
reproduce. For instance, various preliminary studies of the matter
closure problem in connection with the possibility of "bootstrapping"
in space manufacturing have concluded that 90-96% closure is
attainable in specific nonreplicating production applications (Bock,
1979; Miller and Smith, 1979; O'Neill et al., 1980). The 4-10% that
still must be supplied sometimes are called "vitamin parts." These
might include hard-to-manufacture but lightweight items such as
microelectronics components, ball bearings, precision instruments and
others which may not be cost-effective to produce via automation
off-Earth except in the longer term. To take another example, partial
information closure would imply that factory-directive control or
supervision is provided from the outside, perhaps (in the case of a
lunar facility) from Earth-based computers programmed with
human-supervised expert systems or from manned remote teleoperation
control stations on Earth or in low Earth orbit.

The fraction of total necessary resources that must be supplied by
some external agency has been dubbed the "Tukey Ratio" (Heer, 1980).
Originally intended simply as an informal measure of basic materials
closure, the most logical form of the Tukey Ratio is computed by
dividing the mass of the external supplies per unit time interval by
the total mass of all inputs necessary to achieve self-replication.
(This is actually the inverse of the original version of the ratio.)
In a fully self-replicating system with no external inputs, the Tukey
Ratio thus would be zero (0%).

It has been pointed out that if a system is "truly isolated in the
thermodynamic sense and also perhaps in a more absolute sense (no
exchange of information with the environment) then it cannot be
self-replicating without violating the laws of thermodynamics"
(Heer,1980). While this is true, it should be noted that a system
which achieves complete "closure" is not "closed" or "isolated" in the
classical sense. Materials, energy, and information still flow into
the system which is thermodynamically "open"; these flows are of
indigenous origin and may be managed autonomously by the SRS itself
without need for direct human intervention.

Closure theory. For replicating machine systems, complete closure is
theoretically quite plausible; no fundamental or logical
impossibilities have yet been identified. Indeed, in many areas
automata theory already provides relatively unambiguous conclusions.
For example, the theoretical capability of machines to perform
"universal computation" and "universal construction" can be
demonstrated with mathematical rigor (Turing, 1936; von Neumann, 1966;
see also sec. 5.2), so parts assembly closure is certainly
theoretically possible.

An approach to the problem of closure in real engineering-systems is
to begin with the issue of parts closure by asking the question: can a
set of machines produce all of its elements? If the manufacture of
each part requires, on average, the addition of >1 new parts to
product it, then an infinite number of parts are required in the
initial system and complete closure cannot be achieved. On the other
hand, if the mean number of new parts per original part is <1, then
the design sequence converges to some finite ensemble of elements and
bounded replication becomes possible.

The central theoretical issue is: can a real machine system itself
produce and assemble all the kinds of parts of which it is comprised?
In our generalized terrestrial industrial economy manned by humans the
answer clearly is yes, since "the set of machines which make all other
machines is a subset of the set of all machines" (Freitas et
al.,1981). In space a few percent of total system mass could feasibly
be supplied from Earth-based manufacturers as "vitamin parts."
Alternatively, the system could be designed with components of very
limited complexity (Heer, 1980). The minimum size of a self-sufficient
"machine economy" remains unknown.

===
===

According to the NASA study final report [2]: "In actual practice, the
achievement of full closure will be a highly complicated, iterative
engineering design process.* Every factory system, subsystem,
component structure, and input requirement must be carefully matched
against known factory output capabilities. Any gaps in the
manufacturing flow must be filled by the introduction of additional
machines, whose own construction and operation may create new gaps
requiring the introduction of still more machines. The team developed
a simple iterative procedure for generating designs for engineering
systems which display complete closure. The procedure must be
cumulatively iterated, first to achieve closure starting from some
initial design, then again to eliminate overclosure to obtain an
optimized design. Each cycle is broken down into a succession of
subiterations which ensure qualitative, quantitative, and throughput
closure. In addition, each subiteration is further decomposed into
design cycles for each factory subsystem or component." A few
subsequent attempts to apply closure analysis have concentrated
largely on qualitative materials closure in machine replicator systems
while de-emphasizing quantitative and nonmaterials closure issues
[1128], or have considered closure issues only in the more limited
context of autocatalytic chemical networks [2367, 2686]. However, Suh
[1160] has presented a systematic approach to manufacturing system
design wherein a hierarchy of functional requirements and design
parameters can be evaluated, yielding a "functionality matrix" (Figure
3.61) that can be used to compare structures, components, or features
of a design with the functions they perform, with a view to achieving
closure.

* To get a sense of the complex iterative nature of closure
engineering, the reader should ponder the design process that he or
she might undertake in order to generate the following full-closure
self-referential "pangram" [2687] (a sentence using all 26 letters at
least once), written by Lee Sallows and reported provided by
Hofstadter [260]: "Only the fool would take trouble to verify that his
sentence was composed of ten a's, three b's, four c's, four d's,
forty-six e's, sixteen f's, four g's, thirteen h's, fifteen i's, two
k's, nine l's, four m's, twenty-five n's, twenty-four o's, five p's,
sixteen r's, forty-one s's, thirty-seven t's, ten u's, eight v's, four
x's, eleven y's, twenty-seven commas, twenty-three apostrophes, seven
hyphens, and, last but not least, a single !" Self-enumerating
sentences like these are also called "Sallowsgrams" [2687] and have
been generated in English, French, Dutch, and Japanese languages using
iterative computer programs.

Partial closure results in a system that is only partially
self-replicating. With partial closure, the machine system will fail
to self-replicate if some vital matter, energy, or information input
is not provided from the outside. For instance, various preliminary
studies [2688-2690] of the materials closure problem in connection
with the possibility of macroscale "bootstrapping" in space
manufacturing have concluded that 90-96% closure is attainable in
specific nonreplicating manufacturing applications. The 4-10% that
still must be supplied are sometimes called "vitamin parts." (The
classic example of self-replication without complete materials
closure: Humans self-reproduce but must but take in vitamin C, whereas
most other self-reproducing vertebrates can make their own vitamin C
[2691].) In the case of macroscale replicators, vitamin parts might
include hard-to-manufacture but lightweight items such as
microelectronics components, ball bearings, precision instruments, and
other parts which might not be cost-effective to produce via
automation off-Earth except in the longer term. To take another
example, partial information closure might imply that factory control
or supervision is provided from the outside, perhaps (in the case of a
lunar facility) from Earth-based computers programmed with
human-supervised expert systems or from manned remote teleoperation
control stations located on Earth or in low Earth orbit.

Regarding closure engineering, Friedman [573] observes that "if 96%
closure can really be attained for the lunar solar cell example, it
would represent a factor of 25 less material that must be expensively
transported to the moon. However, ...a key factor ... which deserves
more emphasis [is] the ratio of the weight of a producing assembly to
the product assembly. For example, the many tons of microchip
manufacturing equipment required to produce a few ounces of microchips
makes this choice a poor one – at least early in the evolution – for
self-replication, thus making microelectronics the top of everyone's
list of 'vitamin parts'."

================
================

Here's to cramming everything into as small a space as possible.

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