Over at Uncommon Descent, mathematician Granville Sewell announces a new prize he will be administering. It sets a fascinating challenge but offers an enviable reward:
I plan to award a prize to anyone who can invent a non-trivial 3D machine which can replicate itself. The machine must be able to make copies of itself without human intervention, except possibly to supply the raw materials. Basically a 3D printer which can print a copy of itself which retains the ability to print a copy of itself, which… A page which can be photocopied does not count, because it is the photocopier which actually makes the copy, unless the photocopy machine also makes a copy of itself; a computer program which duplicates itself does not count unless the computer it runs on makes a copy of itself also.
The reward isn’t cash but something even better:
The prize: the right to speculate about how life originated. Leave your artificial species alone and see how many generations it lasts before going extinct. If it makes accurate copies of itself for 100+ generations, then you also get to speculate about how genetic duplication errors might accumulate into major evolutionary advances.
Now go to it, you proponents of unguided abiogenesis and evolution through all sorts of brute unintelligent, and only unintelligent, natural forces. The first ever Sewell Prize in Biological Origins Studies awaits!