Darwin's Devices

Entries from January 2012

The Book

January 25th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Book

Darwin’s Devices:  What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology.

The book will be published April 3, 2012, by Basic Books.  Pre-order it now from your favorite bookseller.

The intended audience:  fun-loving nerds who want to learn something cool about science (non-specialist).

  From the cover flap:

What happens when we let robots play the game of life?

The challenge of studying evolution is that the history of life is buried in the past—we can’t witness the dramatic events that shaped the adaptations we see today. But biorobotics expert John Long has found an ingenious way to overcome this problem: he creates robots that look and behave like extinct animals, subjects them to evolutionary pressures, lets them compete for mates and resources, and mutates their ‘genes’. In short, he lets robots play the game of life.

In Darwin’s Devices, Long tells the story of these evolving biorobots—how they came to be, and what they can teach us about the biology of living and extinct species. Evolving biorobots can replicate creatures that disappeared from the earth long ago, showing us in real time what happens in the face of unexpected environmental challenges: biomechanically correct models of backbones, for example, can help us understand why the first vertebrates evolved them…

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