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I think the book may have been one of the Endymion series by Dan Simmons. This story is a small part of a larger story.

It takes place on a long-abandoned mining colony. Over thousands of years, the abandoned machinery developed AI to fulfill their mandate to keep mining. They became quite sophisticated.

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  • In roughly which year did you read this? And do you recall anything about the cover? Commented May 18 at 20:16

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The first thing to leap to mind is James Hogan's Code of the Lifemaker, the first section of which tells how a damaged robot mining factory on Titan evolved over thousands of years into a society.

That first section is available here

The planet at which the searcher arrived after a voyage of many years was the fourth in the system of a star named after the king of a mythical race of alien gods, and could appropriately be called Zeus IV. It wasn't much to look at—an airless, lifeless ball of eroded rock formations, a lot of boulders and debris from ancient meteorite impacts, and vast areas of volcanic ash and dust—but the searcher's orbital probes and surface landers found a crust rich in titanium, chromium, cobalt, copper, manganese, uranium, and many other valuable elements concentrated by thermal-fluidic processes operating early in the planet's history. Such a natural abundance of metals could support large-scale production without extensive dependence on bulk nuclear transmutation processes—in other words, very economically—and that was precisely the kind of thing that the searcher had been designed to search for. After completing their analysis of the preliminary data, the control computers selected a landing site, composed and transmitted a message home to report their findings and announce their intentions, and then activated the vessel's descent routine.


One hundred thousand years after being scorched by the supernova, the searcher drifted into the outer regions of a planetary system.


Accordingly Factory One's Supervisor program signaled the ship's databank for a copy of the "How to Make a Factory" file, which included a set of subfiles on "How to Make the Machines Needed to Make a Factory," i.e., robots. And that was where everything really started to go wrong.

The robots contained small internal processors that could be reprogramed via radiolink from the factory computers for each new task to be accomplished. This allowed the robots to proceed with their various jobs under autonomous local control and freed up the central computers for other work while they were waiting for the next "Done that—what do I do now?" signal. Hence many software mechanisms existed for initiating data transfers between the factory computers and the remote processors inside the robots.


The population had thus come to exhibit genetic variability and recombination, competition, selection, and adaptation—all the essentials for continuing evolution. The form of life—for it was, wasn't it?—was admittedly somewhat strange by terrestrial standards, with the individuals that it comprised sharing common, external reproductive, digestive, and immune systems instead of separate, internal ones . . . and of course there were no chains of complicated carbon chemistry figuring anywhere in the scheme of things. . . . But then, after all, what is there apart from chauvinism to say it shouldn't have been so?

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