Robots Can Now Reproduce, Scientists Claim

Robots Can Now Reproduce, Scientist Claim

( – Scientists at the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering believe they could be on the leading edge of a transformative technology. In 2020, the researchers unveiled tiny organisms created by artificial intelligence. They are called xenobots, and they hold incredible potential for numerous advances in science, climate and medicine.

The xenobots are doing something never before seen or imagined. They are biologically reproducing in a way plants or animals do not. During experiments, the xenobots, small, intelligent artificial microorganisms, swam around their dish, found other single cells, and made baby xenobots. Within a few days, new xenobots moved and behaved like the initial creations.

How Were Xenobots Created?

The microorganisms are less than a millimeter wide. Engineers designed them on a computer and hand-assembled the initial models. To accomplish the feat, researchers took embryonic cells of African clawed frogs that would develop into skin. The cells sit on the outside of a tadpole and protect it from pathogens and unhealthy mucus. Now, a computer-designed collection of these frog cells is reduplicating on its own from an unaltered frog genome.

It’s not a feat scientists could come up with on their own. Using a massive supercomputer and an evolutionary algorithm, scientists tested billions of frog cells and formed various shapes, including triangles, pyramids and squares. What the AI came up with was a design that looked more like Pac-Man, and it worked.

World of Possibilities Is Opening Up

Researchers say the xenobots open a new way of understanding how life generates, and they can offer novel solutions to difficult problems. For example, scientists may use future tiny living machines to pull microplastics out of waterways and oceans.

While research in numerous fields holds promise, it’s the area of medicine that might hold the most promise. Instead of creating a vaccine over a protracted period, the living robots can teach scientists how a deadly virus like COVID-19, or even Ebola, duplicates, then neutralize the infections in near-real-time.

Regenerative medicine is another area of great promise. Scientists say if they can tell cells what we want them to do, it could revolutionize medicine. Xenobots could help people heal more quickly and safely from cancer, traumatic injuries, brain damage, congenital disabilities and even aging. Researchers say decades of research and advancements have shown them the limitations of medicine. Simply stated, we don’t know what we don’t know. Xenobots can predict and teach us what our cells are going to do before they do it.

While some people express concern or worry about the technology, researchers suggest there’s no reason to worry about anything. They say federal, state and institutional ethics experts have vetted the xenobots, which are easy to destroy.

One way or another, time will tell.

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