Whilst I wait for a metal disc to make the megasonic experiment work, I’ve gone back to the library, and there’s some great precursors to this kind of chemical programming…

Perhaps the first liquid computer was the “Water Integrator”, a soviet behemoth created 1936 by Vladimir Lukyanov, which was soon followed by the MONIAC (Monetary National Income Analogue Computer), a liquid computer system created in 1949 by the New Zealand economist Bill Phillips. The name itself is a kind of play on the early computers ENIAC and MANIAC (which disturbingly was named after it’s use as a simulator for nuclear bomb detonations). MONIAC was used to simulate the British economy (which seems to have recently sprung a leak), and one was possibly used to control the economy of Guatemala! Is this where the term “financial fluidity” originates?

In an inversion of the computer-aided chemical design undertaken here, rogue scientist Lee Cronin is working in a realm of research called “inorganic biology”, which sounds a bit like the bio-horror movies of David Cronenberg. Cronin believes that creating true artificial intelligence is impossible just using silicone wafers (i.e. digital computers), so he’s trying to do it with chemicals that can interact in ways that approach the molecular complexities of a human brain. Watchout!

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