MIT's Self-Assembly Lab Teaches Inanimate Objects to Think

MIT's Self-Assembly Lab Teaches Inanimate Objects to Think

Skylar Tibbits' MIT laboratory has created several materials that assemble themselves

If you met Skylar Tibbits at a party and the small talk, like it often does, turned to employment, it wouldn't be long before you started to wonder if Tibbits was entirely sane. After all, this is a guy who supposedly spends his time teaching inanimate objects to think for themselves.

But Skylar Tibbits isn't delusional. He's one of those rare people whose crazy ideas actually turn out to be brilliant.

Tibbits is an architect, research scientist, and faculty member at MIT. His lab, the self-assembly lab, is currently working on a series of materials that automatically assemble themselves.

These self-assembled materials come in a few different flavors. Those that were created using a 3D printer are activated through water, but some utilize magnetics or a biomolecular reaction. However, they all have one thing in common: they look like magic.

The project that's getting the most attention is a process that Tibbits refers to as "4D printing" (the fourth dimension being time). "What we're saying here is, you design something, you print it, it evolves," he said during an interview with Wired. "It's like naturally embedding smartness into the materials."

"There's new possibilities for self-assembly, replication, repair in our physical structures, our buildings, machines," he explained. "Imagine if our buildings, our bridges, machines, all of our bricks could actually compute."

I'm automatically suspicious of anything that can't be killed by smashing, but I'll be interested to see what kind of practical usefulness Skylar's team manages to uncover.

Source: Self Assembly Lab, TED

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skylar. hmm. sounds almost like....

its terminator poop!

Can this tech be used for evil? If so, I may need a sample.

Ah, science for the sake of science. I love it. It's pure. They are doing things for the sake of doing them and then worrying about practical applications.

I like that most people on the internet can instantly tell if something if could relate to Terminator or some kind of Robot Uprising :P

Oooh, this is neat! Do some origami next! I wanna see some self-folding cranes, goddammit!

How is this different from shape memory alloy aside from the fact that one is activated by heat and the other by water and how is this related to computation or self repair?

This


is hardly anything new.

rhizhim:
skylar. hmm. sounds almost like....

its terminator poop!

Pfft that's primitive in comparison, this guy is talking something more like replicators

loa:
How is this different from shape memory alloy aside from the fact that one is activated by heat and the other by water and how is this related to computation or self repair?

Shape memory alloys all share the problem of metal fatigue, that meaning the more the material is bent the more permanent damage is done to the structure, until it finally breaks.

Basically if it bends then it can recover from that, but if its cut, then its going to stay cut until its melted down and used to make a new one.

Also this thing is using the water to complete its assembly, instead of using it for minor repairs.

This seems like a legitimately cool method of producing a wider variety of objects and components from a 3D printer; as long as you have the proper activator and schematic. Pity that this is the internet, and a lot of folks are going to gloss over the implications of this tech just so they can be first in line to squawk out some overused reference to Terminator and Skynet.

Hmmm...Skylar.

SKYlar.

Skynet.

I knew it.

 

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