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Encyclopedia > Clanking replicator

A clanking replicator is an artificial self-replicating system that relies on conventional large-scale technology and automation. The term evolved to distinguish such systems from the microscopic "assemblers" that nanotechnology may make possible (in the event that nanomachines endlessly replicated themselves, it would be called grey goo). They are also sometimes called "Auxons", from the Greek word auxein which means "to grow", or "von Neumann machines" after John von Neumann, who first rigorously studied the idea. This last term ("von Neumann machine") is less specific and also refers to a completely unrelated computer architecture proposed by von Neumann, so its use is discouraged where accuracy is important. Von Neumann himself used the term Universal Constructor. Self-replication is the process by which some things make copies of themselves. ... In the futuristic research field of nanotechnology, an assembler is a construction machine that manipulates and builds with individual atoms or molecules. ... A mite next to a gear set produced using MEMS, the precursor to nanotechnology. ... Grey goo, or gray goo, refers to a hypothetical end-of-the-world event involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves (a scenario known as ecophagy). ... The term Von Neumann machine has two seperate meanings. ... John von Neumann in the 1940s. ... The Nobili-Pesavento 29-state approximation of von Neumanns universal constructor, with a tape of instructions extending to the right. ...

Contents


Basic concept

A self-replicating machine would need to have the capacity to gather energy and raw materials, process the raw materials into finished components, and then assemble them into a copy of itself. It is unlikely that this would all be contained within a single monolithic structure, but would rather be a group of cooperating machines or an automated factory that is capable of manufacturing all of the machines that make it up. The factory could produce mining robots to collect raw materials, construction robots to put new machines together, and repair robots to maintain itself against wear and tear, all without human intervention or direction. The advantage of such a system lies in its ability to expand its own capacity rapidly and without additional human effort; in essence, the initial investment required to construct the first clanking replicator would have an arbitrarily large payoff with no additional labor cost. The idea of Self-replicating machines is tackled by such persons as Homer Jacobsen, Edward F. Moore, and Freeman Dyson. ... material is the substance or matter from which something is or can be made, or also items needed for doing or creating something. ... Something that is monolithic is something created in one piece, resembling a monolith such as an obelisk. ... A humanoid robot manufactured by Honda. ...


Such a machine violates no physical laws, and we already possess the basic technologies necessary for some of the more detailed proposed designs. Wind turbines A machine is any mechanical or organic device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of tasks. ... A physical law, scientific law, or a law of nature is a mathematical generalization based on empirical observations of physical behavior. ...


Noting another proof that self-replicating machines are possible is the simple fact that all living organisms are self replicating by definition.


History of the concept

The idea of non-biological self-replicating systems was first seriously suggested by mathematician John von Neumann in the late 1940s when he proposed a kinematic self-reproducing automaton model as a thought experiment. See von Neumann, J., 1966, The Theory of Self-reproducing Automata, A. Burks, ed., Univ. of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL. John von Neumann in the 1940s. ... // Events and trends World War II was a truly global conflict with many facets: immense human suffering, fierce indoctrination, and the use of new, extremely devastating weapons such as the atomic bomb. ... In physics, kinematics is the branch of mechanics concerned with the motions of objects without being concerned with the forces that cause the motion. ... In philosophy, physics, and other fields, a thought experiment (from the German Gedankenexperiment) is an attempt to solve a problem using the power of human imagination. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ...


Advanced Automation for Space Missions

In 1980, NASA conducted a summer study entitled Advanced Automation for Space Missions, edited by Robert Freitas, to produce a detailed proposal for self-replicating factories to develop lunar resources without requiring additional launches or human workers on-site. The proposed system would have been capable of exponentially increasing productive capacity. The design could be modified to build Von Neumann probes to explore the galaxy. 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday. ... NASA logo Listen to this article · (info) This audio file was created from an article revision dated 2005-09-01, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. ... Robert A. Freitas Jr. ... Bulk composition of the moons mantle and crust estimated, weight percent Oxygen 42. ... In mathematics, a quantity that grows exponentially (or geometrically) is one that grows at a rate proportional to its size. ... A von Neumann probe is a specific example of a hypothetical concept based on the work of Hungarian-born American mathematician and physicist John von Neumann. ...


The reference design specified small computer-controlled electric carts running on rails. Each cart could have a simple hand or a small bull-dozer shovel, forming a basic robot. A humanoid robot manufactured by Honda. ...


Power would be provided by a "canopy" of solar cells supported on pillars. The other machinery could run under the canopy.


A "casting robot" would use a robotic arm with a few sculpting tools to make plaster molds. Plaster molds are easy to make, and can make precise parts with good surface finishes. The robot would then cast most of the parts either from nonconductive molten rock (basalt) or purified metals. An electric oven would melt the materials. A carbon dioxide laser cutting and welding system was also included. One half of a bronze mold for casting a socketed spear head dated to the period 1400-1000 BC. This article is about the manufacturing process; for other uses, see Casting (disambiguation). ... A humanoid robot manufactured by Honda. ... // Gypsum plaster Plaster of Paris, or simply plaster, is a type of building material based on calcium sulfate hemihydrate, nominally (CaSO4)2*H2O. It is created by heating gypsum to about 150°C, 2(CaSO4 · 2H2O) → (CaSO4)2 · H2O + 3 H2O (released as steam). ... One half of a bronze mould for casting a socketed spear head dated to the period 1400-1000 BC. There are no known parallels for this mould. ... Basalt Basalt is a common gray to black volcanic rock. ... Lightning strikes during a night-time thunderstorm. ... Oven depicted in a painting by Millet An oven is an enclosed compartment for heating, baking or drying. ...


A more speculative, more complex "chip factory" was specified to produce the computer and electronic systems, but the designers also said that it might prove practical to ship the chips from Earth as if they were "vitamins."


Much of the design study was concerned with a simple, flexible chemical system for processing the ores, and the differences between the ratio of elements needed by the replicator, and the ratios available in lunar regolith. The element that most limited the growth rate was chlorine, needed to process regolith for aluminium. Chlorine is very rare in lunar regolith, so the design recycled it. Regolith (Greek: blanket rock) is a layer of loose, heterogeneous material covering solid rock. ... General Name, Symbol, Number chlorine, Cl, 17 Chemical series halogens Group, Period, Block 17, 3, p Appearance yellowish green Atomic mass 35. ... General Name, Symbol, Number aluminium, Al, 13 Chemical series poor metals Group, Period, Block 13, 3, p Appearance silvery Atomic mass 26. ...


Other references

  • The first technical design study of a self-replicating interstellar probe was published in a 1980 paper by Robert Freitas
  • Article about a proposed clanking replicator system to be used for developing Earthly deserts in the October 1995 Discover Magazine, featuring forests of solar panels that powered desalination equipment to irrigate the land.
  • In 1995, Nick Szabo proposed a challenge to build a macroscale replicator from Lego(tm) robot kits and similar basic parts. Szabo wrote that this approach was easier than previous proposals for macroscale replicators, but successfully predicted that even this method would not lead to a macroscale replicator within ten years.
  • In 1998, Chris Phoenix suggested a general idea for a macroscale replicator on the sci.nanotech newsgroup, operating in a pool of ultraviolet-cured liquid plastic, selectively solidifying the plastic to form solid parts. Computation could be done by fluidic logic. Power for the process could be supplied by a pressurized source of the liquid.
  • In 2004, General Dynamics completed a study for NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts. It concluded that complexity of the development was equal to that of a Pentium 4, and promoted a design based on cellular automata.
  • In 2005, Adrian Bowyer of the University of Bath started the RepRap project to develop a rapid prototyping machine which would be able to replicate itself, making such machines cheap enough for people to buy and use in their homes. The project is releasing material under the GNU GPL. [1]

Freeman Dyson in San Francisco in 2005 (Photo: Jacob Appelbaum) Freeman John Dyson (born December 15, 1923) is an English-born American physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum mechanics, nuclear weapons design and policy, and for his serious theorizing in futurism and science fiction concepts, including the... This article is about the hypothetical self-replicating spacecraft concept. ... Robert A. Freitas Jr. ... Kim Eric Drexler (born April 25, 1955) is an American engineer best known for popularizing the potential of hypothetical molecular nanotechnology. ... 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Engines of Creation (ISBN 0-385-19973-2) is a seminal molecular nanotechnology book written by K. Eric Drexler in 1986. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Discover Magazine is a science magazine that publishes articles about science. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean. ... Chris Phoenix, co-founder (with Mike Treder and Director of Research at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN), has studied advanced nanotechnology for more than 15 years. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength shorter than that of the visible region, but longer than that of soft X-rays. ... Plastic is a term that covers a range of synthetic or semisynthetic polymerization products. ... Fluidic logic , also known as fluidics , is the implementation of Boolean algebra functions using streams of fluid (such as water or air). ... It has been designated the: International Year of Rice (by the United Nations) International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition (by UNESCO) 2004 World Health Day topic was Road Safety (by World Health Organization) Year of the Monkey (by the Chinese calendar) See the world in... Robert A. Freitas Jr. ... Ralph C. Merkle (born 2 February 1952) is a pioneer in public key cryptography, and more recently a researcher and speaker on molecular nanotechnology and cryonics. ... The University of Bath is a campus university located near Bath, England at 51°22. ... Something to do with a self replicating robot. ... A 3D printer for rapid prototyping Rapid prototyping also describes a software engineering methodology. ... GPL redirects here. ...

Clanking replicators in fiction

In fiction, the idea dates back at least as far as Karel Čapek's 1921 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). Karel ÄŒapek (pronounced â–¶ (help· info); IPA: ) (January 9, 1890 - December 25, 1938) was one of the most important Czech writers of the 20th century. ... 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... R.U.R. (Rossums Universal Robots) is a science fiction play by Karel ÄŒapek. ...


An early treatment was the short story Autofac by Philip K. Dick, published in 1955, which precedes von Neumann's original paper about self-reproducing machines. Dick also touched on this theme in his earlier 1953 short story Second Variety. Another example can be found in the 1962 short story Epilogue by Poul Anderson, in which self-replicating factory barges were proposed that used minerals extracted from ocean water as raw materials. Autofac is a 1955 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick that features one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines. ... Philip K. Dick Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American science fiction writer and novelist who changed the genre profoundly. ... 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1953 calendar). ... Second Variety is a short story by Philip K. Dick first published in Space Station Fiction in 1953. ... 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar). ... Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was a prolific science fiction author of the genres Golden Age; some of his short stories were first published using the pseudonyms A. A. Craig, Michael Karageorge, and Winston P. Sanders. Poul Anderson also wrote fantasy such as the King...


In his short story "Crabs on the Island" (1958) Anatoli Dneprov speculated on the idea that since the replication process is never 100% accurate, leading to slight differences in the descendants, over several generations of replication the machines would be subjected to evolution similar to that of living organisms. In the story, a machine is designed, the sole purpose of which is to find metal to produce copies of itself, intended to be used as a weapon against an enemy's war machines. The machines are released on a deserted island, the idea being that once the available metal is all used and they start fighting each other, natural selection will enhance their design. However, the evolution has stopped by itself when the last descendant, an enormously large crab, was created, being unable to reproduce itself due to lack of energy and materials. 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A speculative phylogenetic tree of all living things, based on rRNA gene data, showing the separation of the three domains, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. ... Charles Darwin in 1859 in his book The Origin of Species defined Natural selection as the principle, by which each slight variation [of a trait], if useful, is preserved. ...


Stanisław Lem has also studied the same idea in his novel The Invincible (1964), in which the crew of a spacecraft landing on a distant planet finds non-biological life-form, which is the product of long, possibly of millions of years of mechanical evolution. This phenomenon is also key to the aforementioned Anderson story. StanisÅ‚aw Lem in 1966. ... The Invincible is a science fiction novel written by Stanisław Lem and published in Polish in 1964. ... For the Nintendo 64 emulator, see 1964 (Emulator). ...


John Sladek used the concept to humorous ends in his first novel The Reproductive System (1968, also titled Mechasm in some markets), where a U.S. military research project goes out of control. John Thomas Sladek (December 15, 1937 - March 10, 2000) was an American science-fiction author. ...


NASA's Advanced Automation for Space Missions study directly inspired the science fiction novel Code of the Lifemaker (1983) by author James P. Hogan. Code of the Lifemaker is a 1983 novel by science fiction author James P. Hogan. ... At the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005 James Patrick Hogan (born June 27, 1941, London, U.K.) is a science fiction author. ...


More modern references to this idea can also be seen in the TV show Stargate SG-1 with the race called Replicators, in which self-replication is achieved and enhanced through absorption of raw materials and technology; this however follows the Grey goo scenario. Stargate SG-1 (alternately spelled STARGΛTE, and popularly abbreviated as SG-1) is a television series based upon the 1994 science fiction film Stargate. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards and make it easier to understand, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Grey goo, or gray goo, refers to a hypothetical end-of-the-world event involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves (a scenario known as ecophagy). ...


The movie Screamers, based on Dick's short story Second Variety, features a group of robot weapons created by mankind to act as Von Neumann devices / berserkers. The original robots are subterranean buzzsaws that make a screaming sound as they approach a potential victim beneath the soil. These machines are self-replicating and, as is found out through the course of the movie, they are quite intelligent and have managed to "evolve" into newer, more dangerous forms, most notably human forms which the real humans in the movie cannot tell apart from other real humans except by trial and error. Screamers is a 1995 film directed by Christian Duguay based on the short story Second Variety by Philip K. Dick. ...


In the computer game series Command & Conquer, the alien substance Tiberium leeches metals from the ground to self-replicate and spread over very large areas. In the game it is harvested and processed to be used for raw materials. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Tiberium. ...


Other notable works containing clanking replicators

Autofac is a 1955 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick that features one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines. ... Philip K. Dick Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American science fiction writer and novelist who changed the genre profoundly. ... Fred Saberhagens Berserker series is a space opera in which robotic self_replicating machines intend to destroy all organic life. ... Fred Thomas Saberhagen (born 1930) is an American science fiction and fantasy fiction author most famous for his Berserker series of science fiction stories. ... The Forge of God (1987) is a science fiction novel by Greg Bear that gives a convincing account of an alien attack on Earth accomplished through misdirection and the use of self-replicating von Neumann machines. ... Gregory Dale Bear (born August 20, 1951) is a science fiction author. ... 2010: Odyssey Two, is a science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke (January 1982) and also a motion picture (1984) by Peter Hyams entitled simply 2010, or sometimes 2010: The Year We Make Contact. ... Insert non-formatted text here Arthur C. Clarke Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (born December 16, 1917) is a British author and inventor, most famous for his science-fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for collaborating with director [[Link title#REDIRECT Insert textStanley Kubrick]] on the film of the same... The World at the End of Time is a 1990 science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl It follows the story of a young Earth-born human on a colony expedition to a faraway star system. ... Frederik Pohl (November 26, 1919—) is an American science fiction writer and editor who became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993. ... Recursion is Tony Ballantynes first novel. ... Anthony Ballantyne, more commonly known as Tony Ballantyne is a British science-fiction author who is most famous for his service as a Information Technology teacher at The Blue Coat School, Oldham. ... Evolution is a science fiction book by author Stephen Baxter. ... Stephen Baxter at 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005 Stephen Baxter (born in Liverpool, November 13, 1957) is a British hard science fiction author. ...

Prospects for implementation

As the use of industrial automation has expanded over time, some factories have begun to approach a semblance of self-sufficiency that is suggestive of clanking replicators. However, such factories are unlikely to achieve "full closure" until the cost and flexibility of automated machinery comes close to that of human labour and the manufacture of spare parts and other components locally becomes more economical than transporting them from elsewhere. Fully-capable machine replicators are most useful for developing resources in dangerous environments which are not easily reached by existing transportation systems.


A clanking replicator can be considered to be a form of artificial life. Depending on its design, it might be subject to evolution over long time periods. However, with robust error correction, and the possibility of external intervention, the common science fiction theme of robotic life run amok is unlikely in the near term. Artificial life, also known as alife or a-life, is the study of life through the use of human-made analogs of living systems. ... In computer science and information theory, error correction consists of using methods to detect and/or correct errors in the transmission or storage of data by the use of some amount of redundant data and (in the case of transmission) the selective retransmission of incorrect segments of the data. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ...


Etymology

It should probably be noted that clanking is an example of onomatopoeia, understandable to some English speakers, but not to all. The term is meant to evoke the image of a nineteenth century factory, powered by steam, pushing gears and rods, noisy and clamorous. Look up onomatopoeia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In physical chemistry, and in engineering, steam refers to vaporized water. ... Spur gears found on a piece of farm equipment. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Clanking replicator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1676 words)
Clanking replicators are also mentioned briefly in the fourth chapter of K.
Article about a proposed clanking replicator system to be used for developing Earthly deserts in the October 1995 Discover Magazine, featuring forests of solar panels that powered desalination equipment to irrigate the land.
A clanking replicator can be considered to be a form of artificial life.
Kids.net.au - Encyclopedia Clanking replicator - (804 words)
Clanking replicators are mentioned briefly in the fourth chapter (http://www.foresight.org/EOC/EOC_Chapter_4#section01of03) of K.
There was an article about a proposed clanking replicator system to be used for developing Earthly deserts in the October 1995 Discover Magazine[?], featuring forests of solar panels that powered desalination equipment to irrigate the land.
A clanking replicator can be considered to be a form of artificial life, and over sufficiently long periods would likely be subject to evolution.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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