Abstract

The concept of living technology—that is, technology that is based on the powerful core features of life—is explained and illustrated with examples from artificial life software, reconfigurable and evolvable hardware, autonomously self-reproducing robots, chemical protocells, and hybrid electronic-chemical systems. We define primary (secondary) living technology according as key material components and core systems are not (are) derived from living organisms. Primary living technology is currently emerging, distinctive, and potentially powerful, motivating this review. We trace living technology's connections with artificial life (soft, hard, and wet), synthetic biology (top-down and bottom-up), and the convergence of nano-, bio-, information, and cognitive (NBIC) technologies. We end with a brief look at the social and ethical questions generated by the prospect of living technology.

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