In human beings, the self-destruction behavior of human body cells is considered as an intrinsic safety mechanism of the human body. It seems that the lifetime of a cell is programmed, and that cells know when to commit suicide. This self-destruction is an intrinsic property that can be delayed due to the continuous receipt of biochemical reprieves. This process, also known as death by default, or apoptosis, prevents cells from dying due to constant receipt of biochemical stay-alive reprieve signals. Investigations into the apoptosis process have discovered that whenever a cell divides, it commits suicide due to lack of reprieve signals. It is believed that the reason for this is self-protection, as the most dangerous time for the body is when a cell divides, since if just one of the billions of cells locks into division, the result is a tumor.

Moreover, metamorphosis and transformation processes are observable in different species. Metamorphosis is a biological process whereby a living organism physically changes its form or structure during development. Perhaps the most notable form of metamorphosis is the transformation from the immature insect into the adult form. Another form of metamorphosis is observed in chameleons, which are famous for their ability to change their skin color to blend in with their surroundings. Biologically inspired computing adopts biological approaches to effective problem-solving, where solutions developed by nature through millions of years of evolution are applied in the computing milieu.

According to various embodiments of the present teachings, an autonomic system is provided that comprises a plurality of autonomic components; for example, a coordinating autonomic component, a messenger autonomic component, and a plurality of autonomic worker components. Each autonomic component of the plurality of autonomic components can be individually programmed to: 1) generate signals indicative of one or more triggering events, 2) send the signals to one or more of the other autonomic components, and 3) self-sacrifice voluntarily based on the occurrence of a triggering event.

In an exemplary embodiment, the plurality of autonomic components can comprise a coordinating autonomic component that is programmed to assign programmed tasks and issue instructions to each of a plurality of autonomic worker components. In some embodiments, the system can comprise a messenger autonomic component that is configured to facilitate communication between a coordinating autonomic component and one or more autonomic worker components. Each of the autonomic worker components can comprise one or more scientific instruments and can be configured to operate the respective one or more scientific instruments. At least one of the autonomic components of the system can be configured to self-sacrifice voluntarily by transformation or self-destruction upon occurrence of a triggering event.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. For more information, contact the Strategic Partnerships Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-286-5810. Follow this link here  for more information.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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