Core Technologies for ChemBioIT Roadmap: Shortlist
5. EVOLUTIONARY PROCESSING
- Genetic information encoding principles for ongoing construction
The choice of representations for structural and functional information in systems that integrate construction and information processing is critical. There is common consensus that the genomes of organism not only contain information about the current instantiation that they encode, but also structural information ensuring the evolvability of this encoding. “Representing more than the information needed to produce a single individual, the genotype is a layered repository of many generations of evolutionary innovation, and is shaped by two requirements: to be fit in the short term, and to be evolvable over the long term through its influence on the production of variation.” Other issues involve the evolution of genetic coding, the evolution of evolvability and the sharing and division of information between organisms.
- In vitro molecular evolution, combinatorial chemistry
In vitro molecular evolution can be seen as an iterative extension of combinatorial chemistry with ongoing selection. Fabrication embracing it requires a quasi-genetic description of variants at least in terms of reproducible construction procedures, with an efficient encoding of the search space, and can be used to overcome uncertainties in viable construction protocols and performance properties.
- Combinatorial functional materials (including polymers)
The colligative properties of advanced functional materials can be tailored by compositional or structural details that are increasingly acquiring a combinatorial complexity. Like membranes and surface coatings, functional materials including magnetic, piezoelectric, porous, and thermoplastic materials are being structured with ever increasing information content and can be then used to control construction processes in increasingly sophisticated fine-grained forms.
- Generative and developmental systems: for integration of production and construction
The formal study of evo-devo systems suggests new instantiations for combining the power of development with evolution. The strong examples from well-studied cases of cellular differentiation from single cells to organisms, including slime mold, drosophila, zebra fish etc, provide a wealth of detailed information and principles about the orchestration of morphogenesis that can also be employed in more technical contexts.
- Evolutionary Design of Experiments
The extension of genetic information from structural encoding to fabrication protocol information allows the evolution of experimental protocols when coupled to an evaluation procedure. This provides an extension of evolution beyond biological DNA encoding.
- From reconfigurable to self-constructing and self-repairing systems
Reconfigurable hardware stands in contrast to programming (software) or parameterization of systems. The boundary between these approaches is however continuous. An external controller usually controls reconfigurable systems. If the controller also becomes part of the system and the system is able to build parts on its own then the term self-construction is used. Reconfiguration is useful in combinatorial construction, since it may require less information to build complex structures by starting from existing (usually modular) structures. Systems with this ability are able to repair themselves, if they have a notion of target structure.