Over time the conductivity of circuits can be lost through chip cracks, heat stress or other factors. On an integrated circuit this can fail the whole chip, and often the whole device. With electronics becoming more dense, reliability decreases and designers often build in extra physical redundancy to avoid the problem.
Manual repair of circuits is nearly impossible given the densities involved (unlike older transistor based electronics). Failures resulted in a significant amount of waste parts, and even with recycling schemes a certain percentage of waste wound up in tips (private or public).
In the 21st century Terran designers came up with the idea of a self-healing circuit that restores the conductivity of a cracked circuit in a fraction of a second.
The system involved the simple use of microcapsules dispersed along circuits, that when cracks appeared, fracture the capsules which then covers the cracked circuit with a conductive metal fluid. Such an approach is autonomous and didn't require advanced systems to monitor.
More advanced models involve the metal liquid setting, and even self sealing capsules capable of cracking and filling a growing rupture in the same place. The technology was even applied to batteries to keep them operational.
The technology was initially deployed in practical applications such as military aerospace and space applications before filtering down into consumer devices.
The later advent of advanced nanotechnology say these kinds of capsule repositories being used as store houses for repair machines, so a device could benefit from both autonomous and 'intelligent' repair strategies, including preventative maintenance.