Von Neumann Machine

Definition

Astronomy

  • Machine whose abilities include the skills needed to reproduce itself from commonly available materials. Von Neumann machines have been proposed as a possible tool for interstellar exploration, and could be released by humans or other species. One possible complication is that they might obey their programming and, once let loose, turn entire galaxies into millions of Von Neumann machines in periods of time far less than the lifetime of a galaxy. Named for John von Neumann (1903–1957), Hungarian-born US mathematician and engineer who among much else was one of the founders of computing.
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