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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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Can a thousand tiny swarming robots outsmart nature?

4 minutes

The mini robots that may show how to ‘programme’ cells for improved performance

Scientists still have much to learn about how life materialised on earth, but the concept of emergence – complex systems developing from smaller, simpler parts – goes a long way towards demystifying it. To help better understand emergence, researchers at Harvard are programming small, simple ‘kilobots’ to simulate emergent patterns found in nature. Beyond revealing more about how order and intelligence can emerge from chaos, it’s possible that the kilobots could reveal shortcomings and inefficiencies in our own biology that we might someday be able to reprogramme.

Producer: Josh Cassidy

Website: Deep Look

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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