Self-Replicating Automata/Evolution

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Self replicating automata are virtual lifeforms, and as such are subject to laws similar to the laws which govern life. The principle of evolution, that life forms are more or less suited for survival in a given environment, and that those that are more suited for survival are more likely to pass on their characteristics, is a general law of life that applies to SRAs as well as it does to biological lifeforms. A successful accidental mutation of an SRA, that bestows a favorable characteristic on an SRA, is of course very rare, as it is with all life, yet we know that SRAs are subject to intelligent design, and so their evolution may be guided by human programmers. Additionally, SRAs may be coded in such a manner that they have a virtual sexual function such that they might exchange code bits with other SRAs of the same species, thus SRAs may begin to evolve much more rapidly on their own.