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Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines Hardcover – October 18, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 341 pages
  • Publisher: CRC Press (October 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570596905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570596902
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Tihamer Toth-Fejel on December 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As one of the nearly 100 technical reviewers for this book, I found this is a "must read" that will likely become THE classic reference for self-replicating machine systems. If you are familiar with Freitas' previous work (especially Nanomedicine, volumes I and II, but also the NASA Ames summer study [...] then you'll know what to expect, and you won't be disappointed. And with the addition of Ralph Merkle's genius, I'm not surprised that the book is as good as it is.

Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines is an impressively thorough compendium of everything that's known, or has ever been done, in this field, including all theoretical and experimental efforts. The treatment is literally encyclopedic, with over 3000 literature references, hundreds of illustrations, and descriptions of several working systems which have already been built and operated in laboratory settings. KSRM is a surprising readable book that's an important resource for anyone interested in machine self-replication. If you want to learn about the history (all the way from Descartes) to this year's state of the art, especially self-replication of hardware as opposed to software, then this book is the one to get. Yes, it's a bit expensive, but it is truly a magnificent resource.

The book contains an exhaustive history of self-replicating machines, including von Neumann's studies and information-based replicators like computer viruses, proposals for self-replicating factories and actual achievements of self-replicating devices, and a complete discussion of proposals for microscale replicators which includes a description (for context) of the many ways biology replicates.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. A. Bowyer on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In our lab this is universally known as "The Bunny Book", for reasons that you can deduce by looking at the cover. You may also deduce that we refer to it sufficiently frequently to have given it a nickname. The reason it is simple - it is an outstandingly comprehensive work of reference for all the ideas and history in the burgeoning field of artificial replication.

Biology is the study of things that copy themselves. It used to be that the only examples we had of such things were those that had come about naturally by Darwin's Law of Evolution. But for the first time we are entering an age of intelligent design, with the only intelligence available to do the designing being our own. People are starting to build biological machines to go along with the natural living machines (including ourselves) that have evolved; at the small scale they are mostly doing this using the construction kit supplied by biochemistry; at the large scale they are simply using the ordinary mechanical and electronic components of conventional engineering.

This is one of the main the books upon which the biological revolution that will result will be founded. None of the consequent creations (nor our children) can escape Darwin's Law, of course - that is as fundamental as the Second Law of Thermodynamics upon which it depends. But we are adding an extra source of change to the random mutations that have driven evolution for three and a half billion years: thought-out innovation deduced from accurate scientific models of how matter, energy, and information behave.

Buy this book to get in at the start of the revolution that will give us the most exciting, terrible, and wonderful machines that have ever been made.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book surveys what seems like every related publication up through its publication date. Examples mentioned range from a NASA conceptual study of using replicating robots for moon colonization, to assembly lines made from LEGO bricks, to Conway's Game of Life.
Unfortunately, the book omits nearly all technical detail. Instead, this book includes lots of breathlessly optimistic prose. Graphics are typically conceptual, high-level outlines/maps/overviews that tend to obfuscate the core technical issues. The book consistently fails to go into sufficient detail to address the current technical obstacles to practical self-replicating robots, or even the quantitative performance of current technology. For example, the review of NASA's lunar self-replicating robot project provides some artist illustrations, some schematics showing flows and quantities of minerals to be processed from lunar soil, names the technologies that would be used to do the processing, and then abruptly switches to complaining that the project was cancelled.

The book should have talked about why it's hard to build useful self-replicating robots. If you actually want to build a self-replicating robot, you would be better served by reading texts focusing on industrial robot design, machine vision, the RepRap project, robot arm assembly lines (where industrial robots assemble more industrial robot) and the ROS software packages. This book will tell you only that some of these things exist, not what they can actually do. Self-replication using complicated pre-made building blocks or in simulations is relatively easy and has been implemented by many research groups, as mentioned (but not explained in detail) in this book.
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