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Scientists Developed Artificial Structures That Can Self-Replicate 127

First time accepted submitter mphall21 writes "New York University scientists have developed artificial structures that can self-replicate, a process that has the potential to yield new types of materials. In the natural world, self-replication is ubiquitous in all living entities, but artificial self-replication has been elusive. The new discovery is the first steps toward a general process for self-replication of a wide variety of arbitrarily designed seeds."
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Scientists Developed Artificial Structures That Can Self-Replicate

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  • Another step (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) * on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:11PM (#37708364)

    Towards Grey goo. []

    Or big nations making mechanical viruses as weapons, and ultimately... those creations at risk of being turned against their creator through malfunction, hackers, or worse.

  • by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:36PM (#37708628)
    I see the first five responses were about science fiction scenarios in which nanomachines destroyed human life.

    All that's really necessary to prevent the machines from getting out of control, however, is to design them with some chemical dependencies. If it needs gold or it can only incorporate carbon from certain uncommon molecules to grow then it can't get very far. Plus, natural selection will be true in part with any self-replicating thing. If they get out they'll have to struggle for resources just like any other form of life. There isn't any reason to automatically assume they'll be better at it simply because they're artificial.

    There are even scenarios in which it might be nice to design nanomechanical organisms with the express purpose of setting them free; I'd sure like an organism that got along by fixing the carbon in carbon monoxide, the ozone in smog, and the nitrogen in nitrogen dioxide to replicate itself. It could make Los Angeles habitable again, and its reproduction would be limited to the rate at which we produce pollutants.
  • by Co0Ps ( 1539395 ) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @08:46PM (#37708720)
    Yes.. your argument applies to literally everything though... so dismissing anything as "just a chain reaction" is basically saying that "this is just a subset of the universe." In other words your argument is true but pointless. Disclaimer: I assume that the universe is a deterministic state machine.
  • by erktrek ( 473476 ) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @09:21PM (#37709088)

    I've also heard that the "grey goo" scenario is a bit overstated given that:

    Organisms have already evolved optimal survival strategies over the millennia and if nanobots were made of organic material they would be "prey" to some of these.
    - and -
    The energy requirements for taking on such a task is unlikely to be satisfied in the current environment (especially if made of non organic materials)

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.