SpaceUp - Motivations

by Luke 1. March 2010 09:32

I've spent the past several months here on the Mindviews Labs blog, at conferences, and other places talking with people about automating engineering and how important I think it is. But I have to admit, as much as I enjoy working on this major project and solving the interesting problems that come up, this work really isn't my end goal.

I'm a huge space nerd. I think sending people and robots into space to explore and live is about the most exciting, fascinating, and interesting work in the world today. I got to spend a couple of days this past weekend at SpaceUp with a bunch of other people who are as taken with going to space as I am. If you're curious, you can see some of the Ignite talks that took place on Saturday evening at www.spacevidcast.com/spaceup/.

I think the only way living and working in space is ever going to be viable is if we can make it cheap, easy, and safe to design and build the rockets, satellites, space hotels, and mining stations we would be using. Right now the engineering is just too expensive.

The point is that the work going on here at Mindviews Labs is about making it easier - or maybe even making it possible - to do something that's important to you. We're building a powerful new tool. The same tool that can engineer my dream could also engineer yours. What would you build if you didn't have to worry about how much it would cost to design? Check in with us because your dream might be closer than you think.

Making Computers Make Decisions

by Luke 14. December 2009 12:11

The most valuable work that people do is make judgments. We decide what we want. We decide how to make it. We decide when we're happy with the result.

The problem we have today is complexity. The things that we want (from fancy cell phones to space satellites) require so many decisions that it takes huge teams of people to make sure they all get made. But many of those decisions aren't very interesting and, while necessary, don't add much value.

Any time I see a situation like that, my first thought is to make a computer make the decision. There are a number of approaches you can take. Decision tables and decision trees are straightforward tools that most engineers with some software skills can implement. Moving up the difficulty scale is implementing a rule-based system for your project. Beyond that, you'll be moving into the hard AI arena.

There are a lot of decisions that you can automate using the more basic tools and you should do some research and give those a try. Mostly I want to encourage you to think in terms of making decisions rather than crunching numbers. There are plenty of number-crunching tools but few decision-making tools. If you exhaust your options and are looking for other approaches, let me know and I can point you to some of our work or point you in the direction of some other experts that may be able to help you.

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