Quarterly (winter, spring, summer, fall)
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7 x 10, illustrated
ISSN
1064-5462
E-ISSN
1530-9185
2014 Impact factor:
1.39

Artificial Life

Summer/Fall 2013, Vol. 19, No. 3_4, Pages 347-364
(doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00117)
© 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bespoke Physics for Living Technology
Article PDF (1.21 MB)
Abstract

In the physics of the natural world, basic tasks of life, such as homeostasis and reproduction, are extremely complex operations, requiring the coordination of billions of atoms even in simple cases. By contrast, artificial living organisms can be implemented in computers using relatively few bits, and copying a data structure is trivial. Of course, the physical overheads of the computers themselves are huge, but since their programmability allows digital “laws of physics” to be tailored like a custom suit, deploying living technology atop an engineered computational substrate might be as or more effective than building directly on the natural laws of physics, for a substantial range of desirable purposes. This article suggests basic criteria and metrics for bespoke physics computing architectures, describes one such architecture, and offers data and illustrations of custom living technology competing to reproduce while collaborating on an externally useful computation.