The Mysteries of Reproduction
and the Magic of Technology Combined
in Singly-Closed Self-Reproducing Machine Tools
for a Distributed Manufacturing Infrastructure
You need two of everything to make one of anything.
That is--putting references to the nature of DNA and the fact most of us have two hands aside--to gain universal manufacturing capability, it is necessary and sufficient to have one "spare" instance of every item in a self-reproducing universal factory or machine tool, including each machine tool, and every nut and bolt, so that each tool can, if needed, first operate or be involved in operating on a copy of itself, which modifies the copy. The copy can operate on the original, allowing for self-upgrade, self-modification, and self-reproduction in a universal factory.
This is because machine tools are machines, and make machine parts. Usually, they are operated by people, who themselves are universal self-reproducing "makers of things". Machine tool input, structure, and output are all the same thing: machine parts--made of metal, usually. Machine tool function is different; all machines convert force, energy, and power from one impedance to another to fulfill a purpose. It is entirely possible you have never seen a machine tool; it's almost certain you've seen and used machines.
Computers are different. Computers manufacture and use their own software, but computers are made of both hardware and software. Since the hardware component of a computer is not self-reproducing, a computer is not a universal factory. It's more like a fancy printing press, able to copy a Bible, a book, a CD or DVD, or an arbitrary snippet of code or text, and distribute it to other computers.
A self-reproducing milling machine was sold from the Want Ad in the Washington D.C., area as such, for $300, about twice the cost of parts, on 24 October, 1997. ( 1997-10-24 ) Toward that goal of machine tool self-reproduction, Replikon Research combined two of each identical drill press, collet indexer, four-jaw chuck, and cross vise of inexpensive Chinese cast iron and steel design and manufacture, marketed one copy of the resulting four-axis universal milling machine under the heading "self-reproducing machine tool" in a local classified advertising publication, sold it to an enthusiastic craftsman, and documented the transaction as representative of a new business model of small, self-reproducing machine shops selling themselves for double the cost their of "vitamin parts". (1),(2) No "gray goo" will spread across the world uncontrolled from this beginning; small factories lacking energy and control closure are doubly-redundant in their resistance to uncontrolled growth. They are safe by design. (3) (4)
This business model, in a world marked by the losses and associated griefs of the 2001-09-11 attacks and terrorist action worldwide, offers society the advantage of a distributed infrastructure which is resistant to terrorist attack, so Replikon Research maintains with the U.S. Federal government Central Contractor Registry an updated registration as a for-profit small business entity capable of delivering this technology at any time it should be requested. Replikon-dot-net is an outgrowth of that registration and is an ISP providing AT&T wireless connectivity as well as some Google apps to its users.
"Safety, comfort, and fun." Those are the watchwords in any manufacturing shop. Craftspeople cannot have fun if they are not comfortable, and nobody can feel comfortable if they do not feel safe. Too many people today do not feel safe, but with a distributed infrastructure, we can all feel safer. In a truly "post-9/11" world, we'd all have integrated the experience and the losses of horrifying magnitude into our awareness and so, be aware of how they affect us. We'd be over it, and on to the next challenge, but we are not in such a world, not yet. Much remains to be done.
Suffering is optional. Short of a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, compassion and nonattachment can do much to alleviate suffering, because all personal and societal discomfort is based on and proportional to the difference between the way things are and the way people think or a person thinks they should be. However, without some notion that our world is not the way it should be, no progress can or would ever be made. Even the notion that suffering is optional is something of a paradox; does it mean that suffering is a bad thing, and that we should move to alleviate it? To believe so is to accept the presence in your life of a kind of meta-suffering that can never be alleviated.
A replikon is a self-reproducing univeral factory, machine tool, or machine tool work cell providing a benefit to a human population. Replikon Research researches replikons. That much is clear. Beyond those two points, as you have just read, or perhaps heard if you are using a screen reader, much remains to be done.
The moon phase and IP address gadgets placed at the start of this text symbolized when written on 2007-02-27 the mysteries of reproduction (a largely female principle; in humans, it is related to moon phase) and the magic of technology (a largely male principle; as an image of the sun, appearing as magic when misunderstood) which combine to produce self-reproducing machine tools. The gadgets stopped working; you might try a wayback machine to recover an earlier version.
This domain (replikon dot net) is administered by Doug Goncz, the owner of Replikon Research. (DGoncz@replikon.net)
A discussion group is available to LinkedIn members at:
Doug's Student Member profile at AASECT, which does not list or imply any therapeutic certification, refers obliquely to the link between magic and technology; between reproductive energies and impulses and manufacturing.
(c) 2007-2011 Replikon Research, Seven Corners, VA 22044-0394 All rights reserved
(1) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2004 http://www.molecularassembler.com/KSRM/3.12.htm "Evidently Doug Goncz  “constructed a self-reproducing machine tool and sold it for $300 in 1997. The machine incorporated its own reproduction template, a drill jig made from 3/8 cold rolled steel. An image of this device was still available online in 2003 ." (The image is no longer available; the host, users.aol.com, has been shut down.)
(2) http://www.molecularassembler.com/KSRM/5.1.9.E.htm#E4 "The simplest passive parts are the most primitive components of which the replicator is constructed, and which the replicator is capable of manipulating for purposes of fabrication or assembly." and "Vitamin parts are passive parts that cannot be manufactured by the replicator and must be provided from the outside in order for replication to be completed." (Refined metal stock and castings)
(3) http://www.molecularassembler.com/KSRM/5.1.9.A.htm#A5 (See "Manual Operation" in the table.)
(4) http://www.molecularassembler.com/KSRM/5.1.9.J.htm#J7 "In 2004 Drexler  employed the somewhat opaque term “autoproductive” to describe engineered systems that are capable of self-replication but which entirely lack one or more key functionalities for safety reasons – that is, they possess low or 0% closure (Section 5.6) in some important design dimension(s), hence cannot replicate without outside assistance." and "A more precise term might have been “auxilioproductive,” from the two Latin roots meaning, literally, “needing assistance for production.”"