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Robot Replicates

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posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 01:23 AM
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The ability to reproduce it seems is no longer unique to biology. US researchers have devised a simple robot that can make copies of itself from spare parts.






Each unit comes with a small computer code carrying a blueprint for the layout of the robot, electrical contacts to let it communicate with its neighbours, and magnets to let them stick together.

By turning and moving, the cubes can pick up new units, decide where they belong, and stack them alongside each other to make new devices.

In a little more than a minute, a simple three-cube robot can make a copy of itself

That offspring version can then make further copies. It is only a toy demonstration of the idea, but lead researcher Hod Lipson, of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has bold plans for these intelligent modular machines


This could very well be the start of a major advancement in robotics. It can open up a world of interesting and perhaps scary possibilities. Many Nano technology researches believe self replication will be a vital part of future nano robots.

If this type of Nano tech goes wrong it could lead to the very bad "Grey Goo" scenario. For those that dont know what im talking about I'll try to explain with a fictional scenario.

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Its the year 2045 Self replicating Nanobots are in wide use. There is a oil spill off the cost of the US and some nanobots are released to breakdown the hydrocarbons in oil. But due to a programing error they begin to break down all carbon based life and replicate unchecked turning all life on earth into more of themselves Grey goo.

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That might sound like Sci-Fiction but so was robots that self replicate not to long ago.


But enough with the DOOMs Day stuff there could be very many applications for robots that could do this. Imagine combining this tech with with another biology function of self-repair in robots. People are doing some interesting work in the field of smart metals and such.

Could emergent behavoir in self replicating robots lead to a type of robot natural evolution? Could we program a "Survival of the fittest " type evolution into them?

At what point would a robot stop being a machine and become a true lifeform?

news.bbc.co.uk...




posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 09:18 AM
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At what point would a robot stop being a machine and become a true lifeform?


When it attains all the characteristics of a life form.

Basically there is a checklist of about five major things that have to be ticked off before it is discussed whether it is alive or not.


  • Grow,develop or change - Mentally and/or physically
    Robotic life can only as of yet Grow mentally, mostly there has been no need to produce arobot that grows or changes shape over time, each is built for one purpose, eg: to weld cars, making them as adolescent robots that grow into adult robots would be absurd

  • Eat or in this case burn fuel just as we burn food for energy.Yes this was the first one achieved, obviously

  • Move, or more accurately have the ability to change itself or it's surroundings.
    To a certain extent they do have this ability, however it is only usually because we have given them it, or control them.

  • Reproduce
    And now yes they can do this, on a very basic level. There is so far no non-human achieved robotic evolution. So they only clone themselves. WHICH actually is like what the first forms of life did, micro-organisms split in two via mitosis.

  • Respond and react to stimuli
    Probably the second to be achieved. We gave them cameras, motion sensors, and complex software to give them sight. We Gave them heat sensors, pressure sensors, and yet more software, so they can essentially feel. There is the technology to give them sensors that detect particles in the air that they then analyse. Smell. The same goes ofr a robotic tongue. Taste. Most obvious is the hearing. They can hear too. It goes without saying that they can be programmed to react to these stimuli


Now i know what your thinking. Four out of five? Not bad. Should we be worried? Maybe so. But the first bullet is probably the most important, and once we create a robot with all five things on the list, we should start to think.
__________________________________________________________

However beyond the physical attributes of life there are several more check boxes that need to be filled before it truly can be considered sentient life. The intelligence level of todays robots has to be taken into consideration too. Its the whole reason why we think it isnt unethical to kill a fish or a mouse or a spider. Its because there stupid Most people say that fish are so less advanced that they cannot feel pain.

The level of robots on the grand scale of things i think is around that of "a mentally retarded goldfish with parkisons disease and arthritis, that has just had a large portion of its brain taken out, impairing its senses."



[edit on 21-11-2005 by Shadow88]

[edit on 21-11-2005 by Shadow88]



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 09:48 AM
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Do you know the actual make up of these little beasties, and the replication process? Is it mechanical or biological? If biological, does it use prions and/or prion-based principles in the replication process?



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 10:29 AM
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Hey Shadow i saw that programme when i was in the states in the summer. I fort it was a pretty gloomy way to look at the future of robotics but the possability is hard to ignore i suppose. Had all kinds of things on it that show did i for get what it was called. They had a number of sernario's on there if im not mistaken?

Im pretty sceptical of them tbh you cant trust a machine can you i know for a fact that my PC hates me & if it could would take me out thankfully the only thing it can currently do to me is crash & freeze up....oneday though...



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 04:45 PM
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Of course life would have to understand the consequences of its actions, right and wrong, good and evil, not to leap off a cliff, not to step out into oncoming traffic, know when its play-fighting and when someone is being mugged in the street.

True sentient life would, above all else, have to be aware of itself, and be able to prove its aware of itself, and aware of others.



In the philosophy of animal rights, sentience is commonly seen as the ability to experience suffering. - Wikipedia.


HOWEVER, a startling quote i just came across is that life, on the most basic level, beyond being able to move, respond o stimuli etc, grow, burn fuel etc, (all that robots can now do) is this.



Sentience is the capacity for basic consciousness—the ability to feel or perceive, not necessarily including the faculty of self-awareness.


Now it begs the question. If we have created a machine, (we are machines, just of a different make-up) that can percieve, can feel, that "eats", that reproduces, that can change the world around itself, that doesnt necessarily have to be sentient for it simply to be alive, (a bird can change the world around itself) should we worry that we are beginning to make robots that fit the above quote?

Would we technically be there Gods?!



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 05:37 PM
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These arent self-replicating they are self-assembling. BIG difference.

[edit on 21-11-2005 by sardion2000]



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 06:03 PM
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Oh obviously I should have said that earlier, yes these just take square robots that cant do anything by themselves, then build a tower of them, at which point they can move.



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 07:40 PM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
These arent self-replicating they are self-assembling. BIG difference.



I dont see the big difference its just a very simple form of Self Replication. Replicate is defined as "To duplicate, copy, reproduce, or repeat" They are building copies of themselves. Granted its a very crude version but Organic lifeforms are just doing a very advanced version of self assembly when they replicate.


Originally posted by Shadow88
The intelligence level of todays robots has to be taken into consideration too. Its the whole reason why we think it isnt unethical to kill a fish or a mouse or a spider. Its because there stupid Most people say that fish are so less advanced that they cannot feel pain.

The level of robots on the grand scale of things i think is around that of "a mentally retarded goldfish with parkisons disease and arthritis, that has just had a large portion of its brain taken out, impairing its senses."


I couldnt agree more with this, but you have to acknowledge they are getting smarter at a rate that far exceeds that of any organic lifeform. Its like they are goin through evolution in overdrive. What would take millions of years for organic evolution to accomplish can be done in a few years time with robots.


Originally posted by Shadow88

should we worry that we are beginning to make robots that fit the above quote?

Would we technically be there Gods?!



A interesting question
I guess some day that could very well be true in a way. But I doubt they will ever look on us with the same awe as humans give to their believed Creator. The creations could very well surpass the Creators.

Heck we are already creating them in our own image.



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 07:51 PM
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I dont see the big difference its just a very simple form of Self Replication. Replicate is defined as "To duplicate, copy, reproduce, or repeat" They are building copies of themselves. Granted its a very crude version but Organic lifeforms are just doing a very advanced version of self assembly when they replicate.


How are they building copies of themselves? They are blocks that were built by humans that hook together with other blocks in new configurations making larger self-assembled structures. Here is a breakdown of the types of Autonomous assembly processes.

Self Assembly
Self-assembly is the fundamental principle which generates structural organization on all scales from molecules to galaxies. It is defined as reversible processes in which pre-existing parts or disordered components of a preexisting system form structures of patterns. Self-assembly can be classified as either static or dynamic. Static self-assembly is when the ordered state occurs when the system is in equilibrium and does not dissipate energy. Dynamic self-assembly is when the ordered state requires dissipation of energy. Examples of self-assembling system include weather patterns, solar systems, histogenesis and self-assembled monolayers. The most well-studied subfield of self-assembly is molecular self-assembly, but in recent years it has been demonstrated that self-assembly is possible with micro and millimeterscale structures lying in the interface between two liquids.

From en.wikipedia.org...

I would classify this as Dynamic Self-Assembly.

Self Reproducing
A formal definition of self reproducing system is proposed using Petri nets. Potential self reproducing system is a subset of places in the Petri net and a subset of internal transitions (a transition is called internal if at least one of starting place and one of final place belong to the subset S) so that the number of tokens in all place in S increases due to firing of internal transitions with specific rates. An actual self-reproducing system is a system that compensates the outflow of its components by reproduction. In a suitable environment eny potential self-reproducing system becomes an actual one. A Petri net can be considered as an "ecosystem" with ecological niches in it.

From www.gypsymoth.ento.vt.edu...

A biomimetic system that would be considered Self-Reproducing(sort of) is a fab lab as it is a tool that has the capability of making a copy of itself if the operator has the knowhow that is.

Self Replication
Self-replication is the process by which some things make copies of themselves. Biological cells, given suitable environments, reproduce by cell division. Biological viruses can reproduce, but only by commandeering the reproductive machinery of cells through a process of infection. Computer viruses reproduce using the hardware and software already present on computers. Memes reproduce using the human mind as their reproductive machinery.

From en.wikipedia.org...

You are right about your assertion that this may well lead to Molecular Assembly. All three of the types of autonomous methods I mentioned are each distinct paths to the same destination.

[edit on 21-11-2005 by sardion2000]



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 09:49 PM
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You have voted sardion2000 for the Way Above Top Secret award. You have one more vote left for this month.




Sardion - your explanations are consistently good, elegant, easy to understand, and well referenced. Thanks. Keep up the good work.



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 11:02 PM
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Perhaps you should be a Editor at the BBC sardion2000

From the article I posted


The modular robotic cubes contain electromagnets that selectively weaken and strengthen, enabling the robot break and join links. The growing cube assemblies are supplied with extra cubes at two "feeding" locations. A three-module robot can replicate itself in just over a minute.



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 11:31 PM
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I don't expect news sites to get it completely right just to get the jist, if however it was a Science website or a Science News Blog run by a knowledgable layman then I'd expect a bit more detail and due dilligence. I may seem like I'm nitpicking here, I just saw an oportunity to elaborate a bit. The three routs are very different in scale and phase of development the Fablab being the closest to the Mainstream atm(allthough it will be some time before a mainstream molecular fablab "blueprint" becomes available)

cba.mit.edu...




A three-module robot can replicate itself in just over a minute.


That is where the article got it wrong sort of. When I hear replicate I think of how a Virus Replicates or how Cells Replicate all from base materials, when these blocks can actively created a clone of itself by itself with only the base materials needed at hand then yes it would be self-replicating. Again sorry for nitpicking but there is a clear distinction.
EDIT And by create I mean fabricate each individual block without any intervension from us, we just feed it raw silicon and copper and whatever else it needs and it uses that to create these multipurpose blocks. It's going in the right direct though


[edit on 22-11-2005 by sardion2000]



posted on Nov, 22 2005 @ 02:07 PM
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But I doubt they will ever look on us with the same awe.


Perhaps. But we will know, we will know
.

Although in order for robotic life to actually gain the staus of life, some kind of spontanious pattern/linkage generator or something, like our imagination. Imagination was something that is said to have allowed us to rise above all other animals on earth, to gain sentience.



posted on Nov, 22 2005 @ 02:09 PM
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But I doubt they will ever look on us with the same awe.


Perhaps. But we will know, we will know
.

Although in order for robotic life to actually gain the staus of life, some kind of spontanious pattern/linkage generator or something, like our imagination. Imagination was something that is said to have allowed us to rise above all other animals on earth, to gain sentience.

Or maybe, for better or likely worse, we will program them with the urge to seek out and/or worship a "higher" power, just as some say God "programmed us with that urge.

Wohhh this conversation is deep



posted on Nov, 22 2005 @ 02:44 PM
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Originally posted by Shadow88

Wohhh this conversation is deep


Indeed
I love threads that open up into such interesting questions. They do open up a plethora of scientific, technical and philosophical conundrums.

Will future Robots dream of electric sheep? The simple answers is No, not unless they’re programmed to. But I believe as machines in the future grow more and more advanced and complex unexpected and amazing emergent behaviors might emerge that we couldnt have planned for.

Robots might never be able write a symphony or turn a blank canvas into a masterpiece. But many lifeforms cant do that, heck I even know alot of humans that couldnt do that either



posted on Nov, 22 2005 @ 02:55 PM
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Thats what I mean. It would have to have some PROGRAMME that creates spontanious links. Random code forming a chain, thus dreams and creativity. Of course thats a extremely dumbed down version.

Though yes, it would be programmed BUT only at first. That programme would evolve without our help, thus a new generation will arise



posted on Dec, 2 2005 @ 04:18 PM
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Uh-oh! There goes the neighborhood! The origins of The Terminator!

This is amazing though. Pretty cool if you ask me.

But I am wondering. Is the "feeling" there for them too?



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