THE AGE OF THE SELF-REPLICATING, SELF-REPAIRING ROBOT HAS BEGUN
ANOTHER OF PHILIP K DICK'S NIGHTMARE FAST BECOMING FAR LESS HARMFUL REALITY
Philip K Dick, the author of the stories that became the movies 'BladeRunner', 'Minority Report', 'Total Recall' and 'A Scanner Darkly', often wrote back in the 1950s about an advanced age where robots would be able to "self-replicate", or build new versions of themselves.
Along with the surveillance society, the police state ethos of 'The Patriot Act' and NSA spying scandal, and the widespread use of designer drugs, PKD would be astounded today to learn that scientists are now steaming towards the creation of numerous robots that can not only repair themselves, but will eventually be able to build new, and better, versions of themselves, all without the aid or input of the original human designers.
From the Cornell University News Service : One of the dreams of both science fiction writers and practical robot builders has been realized, at least on a simple level: Cornell University researchers have created a machine that can build copies of itself....
....the idea of making self-replicating robots out of self-contained modules could be used to build working robots that could self-repair by replacing defective modules....robots sent to explore Mars could carry a supply of spare modules to use for repairing or rebuilding as needed, allowing for more flexible, versatile and robust missions. Self-replication and repair also could be crucial for robots working in environments where a human with a screwdriver couldn't survive.
"Although the machines we have created are still simple compared with biological self-reproduction, they demonstrate that mechanical self-reproduction is possible and not unique to biology," the researchers say.