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How self-assembly could help us build things in space

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The New York Times explores the phenomenon of self-assembly.

MIT self-assembling chain
MIT self-assembling chain

People sometimes worry about robots taking manufacturing jobs from humans, but one day the robots might be out of work, too — that is, if self-assembly ever catches on. The concept isn't new, but a recent piece in the New York Times' Bits blog is a great way to get up to speed on the phenomenon. While it may sound far-fetched, researchers have already managed to build toys that can self-assemble simply by shaking up all of the parts, and in the future the technology could be used to build things in areas where it's difficult for humans to work — everywhere from outer space to deep under water. When that happens, we can shift our attention to robots replacing us as dancers.