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Can anyone recommend some not-overly-technical books dealing with Von Neumann Universal Constructors and similar minimalist replicating "machines" from a general philosophical or even socio-cultural perspective.

What I find tends to be technically pigeonholed under computing, logic, cellular automata, or biology. I am seeking broader discussions of the processes, problems, and paradoxes entailed by "copying" or "reproducing" in the abstract, and I lack a background in formal logic.

Casting the net wide, I admit. I won't know exactly what I want until I see it.

  • Wolfram's book A New Kind of Science sounds close maybe? What have you found so far? – Joseph Weissman Sep 5 '15 at 16:50
  • Thanks, maybe I'll check it out. I assumed that was all cellular automata, but perhaps the discussion widens up. Encountered the Von Neumann model in various places, i.e., Vedral "Decoding Reality," usually in relation to DNA. What interests me is not so much the computing logic as something much more basic: the step in this "perpetual motion machine" that requires two separate "copiers" inside one another, say, "instructions" and "constructor." How they divide then reintegrate, overproduce then reduce, to perpetuate the function. Some interest gap or nugget there I can't quite get at. – Nelson Alexander Sep 5 '15 at 18:36
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    You may find the following interesting arxiv.org/abs/1407.0681, arxiv.org/abs/1210.7439. – alanf Jan 18 '16 at 1:23