Why robot sex could be the future of life on earth
2014 01 24
By George Zarkadakis | The Telegraph
If self-replicating machines are the next stage of human evolution, should we start worrying?
When René Descartes went to work as tutor of young Queen Christina of Sweden, his formidable student allegedly asked him what could be said of the human body. Descartes answered that it could be regarded as a machine; whereby the queen pointed to a clock on the wall, ordering him to “see to it that it produces offspring”. A joke, perhaps, in the 17th century, but now many computer scientists think the age of the self-replicating, evolving machine may be upon us.
It is an idea that has been around for a while – in fiction. Stanislaw Lem in his 1964 novel The Invincible told the story of a spaceship landing on a distant planet to find a mechanical life form, the product of millions of years of mechanical evolution. It was an idea that would resurface many decades later in the Matrix trilogy of movies, as well as in software labs.
In fact, self-replicating machines have a much longer, and more nuanced, past. They were indirectly proposed in 1802, when William Paley formulated the first teleological argument of machines producing other machines.
In his book Natural Theology, Paley proposed the famous “watchmaker analogy”. He argued that something as complex as a watch could only exist if there was a watchmaker. Since the universe and all living beings were far more complex than a watch, there had to be a God – a divine watchmaker. Interestingly, Paley conceded that his argument would be moot if the watch could make itself. This detail has been forgotten during the cultural wars that followed Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species.
An artist’s impression of a self-replicating nano robot – it has been proposed that similar machines could be used to colonise Mars
Self-replicating machines have been around, at least in theory, for decades. In 1949, the mathematician John von Neumann showed how a machine could replicate itself. He called it the “universal constructor” because the machine was both an active component of the construction and the target of the copying process.
This means that the medium of replication is, at the same time, the medium of storage of the instructions for the replication. Von Neumann’s big idea allowed open-ended complexity, and therefore errors in the replication – in other words, it opened up self-replicating non-biological systems to the laws of evolution. His brilliant insight predated the discovery of the DNA double helix by Crick and Watson. He went on to develop mathematical entities that reproduced themselves and evolved over time, which he called “cellular automata”.
Although von Neumann’s model initially worked only in mathematical space, it was a clear demonstration that evolution may influence mechanical evolution. Since then, engineers have taken the principle on board and have produced physical applications such as RepRap machines – 3D printers that can print most of their own components.
The next logical step would be to apply these principles in robot reproduction. For instance, we could have a robotic factory with three classes of robots: one for mining and transporting raw material, one for assembling raw materials into finished robots and one for designing processes and products. The last class, the “brains” of the autonomous robotic factory, would be artificial intelligence systems. But could these robots also “evolve”?
Read the full article at: telegraph.co.uk
Asimov’s Laws Of Robotics Won’t Protect You
Hive Mind: Robots will use their own ’internet’ to learn from each other
LISTEN: Creepy AI Telemarketer Sounds Human, Denies Being a Robot
Robot Rights: Is it OK to torture or murder a robot?
Tech lets users feel 3D objects on flat screens
3D Printing Bananas and Mushrooms for Astronauts
Terminator 2-style liquid metal can now be 3D printed
3D Printing Could Aid Deep-Space Exploration, NASA Chief Says
Latest News from our Front Page
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17.
From the U.S. Army in Europe website:
Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria.
A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us.
At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account.
Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy.
The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade.
Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families
By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian
Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday.
The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria.
A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
|More News » |