Adrian Cho.  Making Machines that Make Others of Their Kind.

1. If you take the DNA out of the environment of the cell, it’s no longer self-replicating – Chirikjian provides this reasoning to explain why it’s alright for his self-replicating machines to operate in complex purpose-built environments with tracks, special gates, slopes, et cetera.  Nail down your own definition of self-replication and explain whether his argument is correct, and why, or whether his argument is wrong, and why.  Be clear about what makes a human self-replication- is our DNA the self-replicating ‘element,’ is it our entire person/body, or is the notion even larger than a single individual?

2. By the end of this article, it ought to be clear that what self-replicating means, and even how and who does it today, is utterly unclear.  Come up with a new term and a precise, workable definition. The term I am looking for would be a characteristic of robotic systems such that: (1) no robot system today achieves this characteristic; (2) if a robot in the future did achieve this characteristic, we could have a whole lot of similar robots quickly thereafter, without any explicit decisions by humans to manufacture or produce more copies.  This new term, which I will call self-replication 2.0 until you invent a much better term and definition, should represent an exciting disruptive point in the future possible trajectory of robotics.

Illah Nourbakhsh,
Sep 20, 2011, 6:51 AM