What’s a machine? This is what Wikipedia says:
A machine is a tool containing one or more parts that uses energy to perform an intended action. … However, the advent of electronics has led to the development of power tools without moving parts that are considered machines.
This definition is not satisfying for me because it sounds very outdated in a way that electronics looks surprising in it. I have my own definition. Look around and choose any machine you prefer, from the simple machines to the most sophisticated ones you can discover. All the models you can find in them were there in the physics of the nature for millions of years before their artificial reinvention. From the living cells to the very heart of the nucleus of an atom in that cell, and from planet earth and its mother solar system to the billion light years away galaxy clusters and absolutely everything in between are machines and therefore the whole universe/multiverse is a very big machine.
I think everything that is bound to any kind of change in some feature or property is actually a machine. Sometimes it tempts me to add “and follows some rules” as a second criteria, but I think the one-criteria definition suits all the machines so well and “following the rules” sounds a little control-freaky. I need this definition later in this post, keep it.
We’ve seen living machines in SciFi movies where machines/robots can do everything human beings can (individually) and even more. Besides the bloodshed and war between humans and machines the underlying reality can look very terrifying today. Think of an imaginary robot manufacturing company; It has a supply chain like every other factory: Raw materials as the input and Robots as the output. You can imagine any type of raw materials you want, they’ll all go back to the earth (mines). The real “raw materials” get extracted, transformed, and combined with others and make new building blocks. This process is repeated again and again until it reaches to the spare parts of a robot (mechanical, electronics, …). I’m sure you can imagine that in every factory between the earth and robot factory there are many other machines that take some form of raw material and transform it to a new one. Therefor we can think of a big machine/factory that builds machines/robots from the earth.
We all know that machines -the software- can learn (thanks to Machine Learning concepts and algorithms) and make decisions based on experience and act somehow intelligently, and it’s not far that they can reprogram themselves by evolving their learning mechanisms. So it is obvious there will be machines making machines without the aid of humans. It IS terrifying. The question is why? Why it’s so horrible if we (humans) could be able to make machines that can be evolving, intelligent, theoretically immortal, strong? Because they will destroy us? Why they would choose to do something like that? These are the questions we have to ask ourselves in the mean time.