My last article on self replicating machines may have been misinterpreted, judging by some of the comments it received. Trust me, it was not a warning of imminent (or eventual) machine caused Armageddon. I think RepRap and Contraptor are terrific projects and I’d love to build one. I’ll have to do an article on diy CNC machines because since I wrote that article I’ve seen quite a few neat ones. The problem with writing a column like this is that it brings home the depressing realization that there are far more cool projects out there than I’ll ever be able to try (short of winning the lottery, that is).
For those of you who do fear being dominated by machines (as opposed to the current situation of being dominated by fellow humans) I offer some solace: Self replicating machines made from LEGOs may well be kinder and gentler masters than their metallic cousins. As the first step in that direction we have the LEGO CNC machine. The WWW page is in German which I don’t speak, however, it looks like the owner is quite the LEGO expert, as in addition to a LEGO CNC machine, there is a LEGO printer, a LEGO scanner, a LEGO traffic simulator, a LEGO plotter, plus other odds and ends. It would be interesting to hook the scanner to the printer to make a LEGO copier.
Now there are real possibilities for self replication here. Can a LEGO CNC machine turn out LEGO bricks? Why not? If it could then you wouldn’t have to pay the crazy prices for LEGO kits at the toy store. But aside from that, if it could make LEGO bricks, then it could probably snap them together as well. Maybe if you went to the factory in Denmark that’s all you’d find, unmanned LEGO machinery turning out LEGO kits under the direction of an NXT AI bent on enslaving 3rd graders, or perhaps just bankrupting their parents.
Coming soon: a column on LEGO gadgets. There are some cool ones out there.