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Embryonics: A path to artificial life?

Zhang, Xuegong; Dragffy, Gabriel; Pipe, Anthony G.


Xuegong Zhang

Gabriel Dragffy


Electronic systems, no matter how clever and intelligent they are, cannot yet demonstrate the reliability that biological systems can. Perhaps we can learn from these processes, which have developed through millions of years of evolution, in our pursuit of highly reliable systems. This article discusses how such systems, inspired by biological principles, might be built using simple embryonic cells. We illustrate how they can monitor their own functional integrity in order to protect themselves from internal failure or from hostile environmental effects and how faults caused by DNA mutation or cell death can be repaired and thus full system functionality restored. ©2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Zhang, X., Dragffy, G., & Pipe, A. G. (2006). Embryonics: A path to artificial life?. Artificial Life, 12(3), 313-332.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2006
Journal Artificial Life
Print ISSN 1064-5462
Electronic ISSN 1530-9185
Publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press (MIT Press)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 3
Pages 313-332
Keywords embryonics, artificial life
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is one of the subject area's premier publication. Findings are presented from novel research in safety critical system design. Electronic circuit functionality is �grown' across an array of simple identical processing elements, comparable to Biological cells, using a coding structure that resembles DNA. A distributed repair sub-system, modelled on the biological immune system, uses redundant circuits to repair faults. Thus, electronic circuits that are very robust to damage can be realised. There could be wide-ranging applications for this technology in the aerospace, robotic, automobile and other sectors. This represents a crucial step forward for safe and recoverable complex electronic systems.


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