We present a novel stringmol-based artificial chemistry system modelled on the universal constructor architecture (UCA) first explored by von Neumann. In a UCA, machines interact with an abstract description of themselves to replicate by copying the abstract description and constructing the machines that the abstract description encodes. DNA-based replication follows this architecture, with DNA being the abstract description, the polymerase being the copier, and the ribosome being the principal machine in expressing what is encoded on the DNA. This architecture is semantically closed as the machine that defines what the abstract description means is itself encoded on that abstract description.We present a series of experiments with the stringmol UCA that show the evolution of the meaning of genomic material, allowing the concept of semantic closure and transitions between semantically closed states to be elucidated in the light of concrete examples. We present results where, for the first time in an in silico system, simultaneous evolution of the genomic material, copier and constructor of a UCA, giving rise to viable offspring.
@article(Clark2017-semclose, author = "Edward B. Clark and Simon J. Hickinbotham and Susan Stepney", title = "Semantic closure demonstrated by the evolution of a universal constructor architecture in an artificial chemistry", journal = "Journal of the Royal Society Interface", volume = 14, pages = "20161033", doi = "10.1098/rsif.2016.1033", year = 2017 )