14 October 2011

Machine Design Based on Natural Selection

Since the advent of inventions such as metal tools, steam power, and electricity, humans have had the opportunity to make ever more sophisticated machines.  Machines from antiquity were based more on mechanical motion, while modern devices are run mainly based on electrical power.

Due to the fallible nature of the human mind, the machines that we produce often have quirks, bugs, and incompatibilities in them.  Especially with prolonged use, many machines just break down and stop working.  Even when they are working, most machines are rarely highly optimized.

A solution to this problem can perhaps be found in nature.  Mother nature creates creatures optimized and streamlined based on billions or millions of years of evolution from natural selection.  Each part has its own intended function that functions optimally in conjunction with the other parts in the coherent system.  There is rarely any extraneous portion in an organism.

When designing machines, therefore, it may be a good idea to subject machines, or the components within a machine, to various tests and see which perform best in various scenarios.  The best machines could therefore be selected for performing its function.

One disadvantage of this technique is that the robots may eventually outsmart humans, since their intelligence could theoretically improve due to natural selection.  At the same time, we may already have let computers control the world, as often, people seem to be powerless when a computer doesn't function as they wish it to even these days.


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