There's an interesting news article on the Mac News Science site covering the work of some Cornell University scientists that have created a robot that replicates. I had to chuckle though when I read that the robots are "... performing no useful function except to self-replicate...." It brought to mind the single minded breeding and beer drinking behavior patterns of students when I was in college. Taken to an extreme, one has to question what the "meaning of life" is other than self replication and preservation of the species. Isn't that by itself the ultimate 'useful function'?
"U.S. scientists reported yesterday they have created a machine that can build copies of itself. The basic principle could be extended to create robots that could replicate or repair themselves while working in space or in hazardous environments.
Right now the machine is just a proof of concept, performing no useful function except to self-replicate, according to Hod Lipson, an assistant professor at Cornell University in whose lab the robots were built and tested. His group's work was reported in today's issue of Nature."