A self-replicating machine is, as the name suggests, an artificial self-replicating system that relies on conventional large-scale technology and automation. Certain idiosyncratic terms are occasionally found in the literature. For example, the term “clanking replicator” was once used by Drexler to distinguish macroscale replicating systems from the microscopic nanorobots or “assemblers” that nanotechnology may make possible, but the term is informal and is rarely used by others in popular or technical discussions. Replicators have also been called “von Neumann machines” after mathemetician John von Neumann, who first rigorously studied the idea.
In this short story, Harry Harrison depicts a future in a world transformed by Von Neumann machines.
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