Self-Replicating Machines in Continuous Space with Virtual Physics

by   Arnold Smith, et al.

JohnnyVon is an implementation of self-replicating machines in continuous two-dimensional space. Two types of particles drift about in a virtual liquid. The particles are automata with discrete internal states but continuous external relationships. Their internal states are governed by finite state machines but their external relationships are governed by a simulated physics that includes Brownian motion, viscosity, and spring-like attractive and repulsive forces. The particles can be assembled into patterns that can encode arbitrary strings of bits. We demonstrate that, if an arbitrary "seed" pattern is put in a "soup" of separate individual particles, the pattern will replicate by assembling the individual particles into copies of itself. We also show that, given sufficient time, a soup of separate individual particles will eventually spontaneously form self-replicating patterns. We discuss the implications of JohnnyVon for research in nanotechnology, theoretical biology, and artificial life.


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