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Artificial Life

Winter 2011, Vol. 17, No. 1, Pages 51-67.
(doi: 10.1162/artl_a_00017)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Artificial Cybernetic Living Individuals Based on SupraMolecular-Level Organization as Dispersed Individuals
Article PDF (218.38 KB)
Abstract

One of the most characteristic features of spontaneously originating biological systems is that their most fundamental structure and especially functioning is based on molecular-level organization. This property is particularly important when natural living individuals composed of organic compounds of carbon are compared with (hypothetical) artificial living individuals based on metals, plastic, glass, silicon, and so on, whose most basic structural and functional units appear at the supramolecular level. The cybernetic definition of a living individual I proposed previously is used in the present work. I argue that artificial, supramolecular living individuals existing self-dependently in the environment of some distant planet must have the form of dispersed individuals composed of several separate subindividuals that are integrated functionally, but not structurally. These subindividuals would be analogous to such modules of human technical civilization as machines, robots, steelworks, chemical plants, electronic factories, power stations, and mines. Such dispersed individuals would resemble colonies of social insects and moles, which are also composed of separate subindividuals (particular insects and moles) carrying out different specialized functions.