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Artificial Life

Spring 1995, Vol. 2, No. 3, Pages 305-318.
(doi: 10.1162/artl.1995.2.3.305)
© 1996 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Active Mutation in Self-Reproducing Networks of Machines and Tapes
Article PDF (1.37 MB)

Self-reproduction via description is discussed in a network model of machines and description tapes. Tapes consist of bit strings, which encode the machines' function. A tape is replicated when it is read by adequate machines. Generally, a machine rewrites a tape without doing correct replication. The variation in a reproduced tape is taken as mutation. Because this mutation is caused by a machine's program, we call it active mutation. Which machine is translated from a given tape is dependent on what kind of a machine reads the tape. External noise is introduced in a machine's reading process to make errors. A new reaction pathway is induced by external noise via a machine's error action. We find that the induced pathways will be mimicked deterministically in an emerging core structure. This core structure will remain stable after turning off external noise. Low external noise develops a core structure of a minimal self-replicative loop. When external noise is elevated, a more complex network evolves. Machines containing a complex core network, which has been bred in high external noise, will actively rewrite tapes rather than just replicate them. Self-replication not as an individual but as a network now becomes important.