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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7551/978-0-262-32621-6-ch159
Pages 981-982
First published 30 July 2014

Blueprint for Self-replicating and Self-assembling 3D Printers

Mads Buch and Steen Rasmussen

Abstract (Excerpt)

In the 1940s Stanislaw Ulam and John Von Neumann came up with the idea of cellular Automata (CAs), which Von Neumann later used to develop a universal constructor (Neumann, 1966). The universal constructor is a pattern implemented in a CA that consists of a two parts: The universal constructor and a tape. The universal constructor reads from the tape and produces what is encoded. A universal constructor may be encoded on the tape, in which case it produces a functional copy of its own the pattern. The term "universal" in its name refers to the fact, that it itself is a universal computer, and as such it can construct all possible (computable) patterns including patters of itself. The Artificial Life community has over the years developed a variety of simple self-replicating CA patterns, e.g. see (Sayama, 2000) and references therein. The CAs, however, are not well suited for programming of arbitrary patterns. Thus, they are unpractical as universal constructors. Biological systems are also clearly examples of constructors capable of making copies of themselves, although they are not universal. They cannot be programmed to construct arbitrary systems. Significant scientific activity has been devoted to construct simple physicochemical systems capable of reproducing themselves, see e.g. (Rasmussen et al., 2008).