The Artifical Life (ALife) Laboratory is part of Rince (pronounced: /rin-keh/), an Irish National Engineering Research Institute based at Dublin City University. It is also a founding member of the European Center for Living Technology(ECLT) (Venice, Italy). The Lab Director is Prof. Barry McMullin.
The mission of the ALife Lab is to engineer synthetic Autonomous or Autopoietic Agents. That is to say, artificial systems or machines which can maintain their own integrity and organisation despite (or because of) turnover in their material components.
Such Agents would be intrinsically capable of self-repair--and even self-reproduction and ongoing evolution.
By virtue of their essential turnover of components, Autopoietic Agents cannot be characterised within the scope of traditional dynamical systems theory (by definition, they do not have any fixed state space). As such, they differ fundamentally from all traditionally engineered systems and products.
Successful synthesis of Autopoietic Agents would provide considerable insight into basic scientific problems of the origin and organisation of the simplest living organisms; it would also provide a basis for utterly new kinds of living technology.