In a paper at the main ALife VII conference (McMullin, 2000) I mention in passing that von Neummann's architecture for self-reproducing machines supports the possibility of genetic relativism and that it seems to me that this allows for a more profound form or degree of evolvability in von Neumann's system compared to, say, Tierra (Ray, 1992). This note elaborates briefly on this point. It is drawn from comments originally presented in my PhD thesis (McMullin, 1992a, Chapter 4).
I will refer several times below to what I call von Neumann's Problem. By this I will mean the problem of how machines can manage to construct other machines more ``complex'' that themselves, in a general and open-ended way--i.e., with the potential for unbounded evolutionary growth of complexity. This is, of course, essentially a problem of artificial evolvability.
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