Living Tecnology Applications

What are the likely implications of artificial living processes and how can artificial living processes be made useful? Making living materials from nonliving materials and the implementation of living processes in other media both address and pose fundamental epistemological questions.[1] However, the potential usefulness of novel engineered living processes stem from the tantalizing properties of life itself. Living systems are characterized by energy efficiency, sustainability, robustness, autonomy, learning, local intelligence, self-repair, adaptation, and most importantly evolution through self-replication.[2, 3] Unfortunately, these are desirable properties current technology lacks, which over the last centuries have created an increasing variety of problems for our societies. More information addressing the societal issues associated with living technology can be found under the living technology focus group at the Initiative for Science, Society and Policy.

It is not our place to make predictions about how future technology could become more alive, but instead we can point to what others have suggested as well as summarize a vision that part of our scientific community shares. This vision is not yet science and more akin to science fiction. First a little historical background: During the 19th century, the industrial revolution automated mass production in factories and a vast transportation infrastructure. In the latter part of the 20th century and the start of current century, the information technological revolution automated personal information processing in computers and the Internet. We believe the next major technological revolution will be based on an integration of information processing and material production. Living organisms combine these processes seamlessly and biological organisms are still the only machines that can do this. To find out how they do this is in part why we seek to understand life. The basic and strategic research we currently lead in this area of integration between biochemistry and information technology can be found under ChemBio-ICT.

[1]    Rasmussen, S. 1991, Aspects of Information, Life, Reality, and Physics, in Artificial Life II, ed. Langton, C., et al., Addison-Wesley, 1991, 767-773.

[2]    Bedau, M, McCaskill JS, Packard N, and Rasmussen S, Living technology: Exploiting life’s principles in technology, (2010) Artificial Life 16: 89-97

[3]    Bedau M., Hansen, P. G., Parke, E., and Rasmussen, S. 2010, eds., Living Technology: 5 Questions, Automatic Press/VIP 2010.