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Open Source Technology

Crowdsourcing Speeds Evolution of 3D Printable Objects 35

Posted by timothy
from the ok-print-me-a-glock dept.
First time accepted submitter JimmyQS writes "The Cornell Creative Machines Lab, which brought us chatbots debating God and unicorns, has developed Endlessforms.com, a site using evolutionary algorithms and crowdsourcing to design objects that can be 3D printed in materials such as silver, steel or silicone. MIT's Technology Review says 'The rules EndlessForms uses to generate objects and their variants resemble those of developmental biology — the study of how DNA instructions unfold to create an entire living organism. [The Media Lab's Mediated Matter research group director Neri Oxman notes] that this could ultimately have an impact on design similar to the impact that blogs and social media have had on journalism, opening the field to the general public.' The New Scientist has a quick video tour."
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Crowdsourcing Speeds Evolution of 3D Printable Objects

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  • by mat catastrophe (105256) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @07:54AM (#37500840) Homepage

    When you write a headline and you're trying to be "hip" by using "buzzwords", please try to put them in the order in which they are actually relevant to what's going on.

    I had to read this one twice to figure out it wasn't about "crowdsourcing", or "evolution", but rather about the fact that "3-D Printable Objects are Evolving faster thanks to Crowdsourcing". /pedant

    • by instagib (879544)

      When there is no Apple nor BitCoin story, 3D Printing comes to the rescue. But /. editors should have learned that instead we need more stories with female scientists who discuss Mechanical Stimulation (TM).

  • I went to the website, there was a bunch of boring 3D objects that could have been made by a 3 year old... Even the Thingiverse http://www.thingiverse.com/ [thingiverse.com] is way more interesting and useful than that site.
  • Slashdotting, your evolutionary algorithm site == an Extinction Level Event.

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @08:50AM (#37501034) Homepage

    I think this is crap. Objects look natural only because WE select objects that look interesting of resemble something we know, so by human selection, not natural selection, "strange" objects don't get evolved any further. That's all there is to the natural look of some of the objects.

    • by greg_barton (5551)

      You imply that human selection is not natural. Why?

      • by Fuzzums (250400)

        Hmm. You have a point.

        What the article pointed out was "we use genomes, so the objects look natural".
        If you played with it, you'll see there are "strange" objects, but in the end we submit only the ones that "resemble something".
        And on top of that, we have to name the objects "bee, horse",
        And on top of THAT, we tend to see things that are not there (Rorschach blots, "Jezus toast").

        So to call things "natural because we use genomes"...

    • Well yes and no. While you're entirely right that if the genome were randomly based it would still perhaps end up with things that look like human things because humans select them to look like those things, but it would have a harder time getting there. The real kicker for genome based growing like this as described originally in some of Richard Dawkins books is that that variation can such that the forms it creates and the similar but different forms are restricted such that it'll generally cover the desi

      • by Fuzzums (250400)

        ok. interesting.
        Let me try to break this down. There is the genome part and the selection / evolution part.

        The selection / evolution part. Let's assume Darwin is right and natural selection follows the rules of survival of the fittest. In EndlessForms it's human selection and the definition of "fittest" will probably boil down to something like "shapes we like to use for the next generation" or probably even to "shapes that resemble something we recognize as something we know".
        The genome part doesn't really

        • First off, it doesn't require an assumption. Darwin was right, and the underlying algorithm works perfectly fine.

          The problem is that random tweaking tends to require that there be a genotype, some underlying data that you change slightly. Unless the shape itself is the genome and then tweaking it, is tweaking it. You could, in theory, just pick a random shape and modify that shape specifically in predefined ways and get to any shape possible. The thing about genomes is that they can only code for some speci

          • by Fuzzums (250400)

            Ok. I was thinking about "looks like nothing" vs "looks natural", but you're right, there is also "looks artificial".

            Even though a corkscrew is not likely to evolve from in EndlessForms, I've seen bottles and lamps and you even suggest Tie Fighters.

            But taking the concept of genes one step further, if you look at a genome as something that encodes something, in the computer world, you inevitably end up with bytes.
            It looks like EndlessForms is working with "genes" that operate as geometrical boolean operators

  • Any bets on how long it will take for them all to evolve into giant penises? It's only a matter of time.
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @09:22AM (#37501240)

    What is shown in the article looks like the basic elements from the first 3D packages on the PC 3 decades back.

    Any multi-piece design today needs explicit, exact shape and size control if you are going to have function and fit required for produceable & usable assemblies today.

  • I don't quite understand why we need crowdsourcing to come up with 3D printable models. Can't we take the 1000's of existing 3D models currently used in CAD programs and video games and convert them into a format that can be printed?
  • by kenp2002 (545495) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:03PM (#37503122) Homepage Journal

    Crowdsourcing accelerates evolution of 3D printable objects by leveraging the synergy of cloud computing resulting in a substantial paradigm shift in cost effective design.

  • We did this 15 years ago: http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/PlantStudio/ [kurtz-fernhout.com]

    The approach and interface has a lot of similarities.

    An open source version (in Python):
    https://github.com/pdfernhout/PlantStudio/ [github.com]

    Recent musical version: :-)
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.evojazz [android.com]

    • I should add:

      * Richard Dawkins did it first in a popular way (there were others even before) with software related to his book "The Blind Watchmaker":
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blind_Watchmaker [wikipedia.org]

      That book was one thing that inspired us, even as my wife and I met around an Ecology and Evolution program and so were interested in these themes already.

      * Also, if the Cornell group was hiring, we'd be interested in helping improve the software. :-)

      Further, for someone with a lot more money or a lot more guts

  • Offer users the ability to print their favorite hotel/castle/maze for permanent display.

    Some designs are quite neat and can often get vaped by server deaths/map corruption.

  • This is great if watching paint dry no longer excites you...

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