A computer produces outputs from inputs, and to do so reliably, its internal noise and variability must be managed effectively. Traditional computer architecture requires hardware determinism, but such perfect repeatability is increasingly incompatible with large-scale and real-world systems. Natural living systems, without the luxury of deterministic hardware, manage variability across the computational stack—and using such principles, soft artificial life offers a route to much larger and safer manufactured computers. This paper describes the engineering development of C214, a next-generation self-constructing digital protocell. C214 struggles to survive in a challenging environment that, while not literally malicious, goes well beyond merely non-deterministic to deliberately destructive. Improved self-repair mechanisms, as well as active defenses in depth, give the new cell’s membrane a median survival time more than ten times greater than that of the earlier C211. A new grid-based cytoplasm is also presented, standing to offer a more stable environment for future layers of the ‘living computation stack’

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