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Team Builds the First Living Robots

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posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 06:04 AM
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Wait...the first living what?



A book is made of wood. But it is not a tree. The dead cells have been repurposed to serve another need.

Now a team of scientists has repurposed living cells—scraped from frog embryos—and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These millimeter-wide "xenobots" can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient)—and heal themselves after being cut.

"These are novel living machines," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism."


This is fantastic...what could possibly go wrong?


The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at UVM—and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. "We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can't do," says co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts, "like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque."


How very Utopian. I am sure that nobody will think of any nefarious uses for programmable robotic organisms that can travel throughout the human body.


With months of processing time on the Deep Green supercomputer cluster at UVM's Vermont Advanced Computing Core, the team—including lead author and doctoral student Sam Kriegman—used an evolutionary algorithm to create thousands of candidate designs for the new life-forms. Attempting to achieve a task assigned by the scientists—like locomotion in one direction—the computer would, over and over, reassemble a few hundred simulated cells into myriad forms and body shapes. As the programs ran—driven by basic rules about the biophysics of what single frog skin and cardiac cells can do—the more successful simulated organisms were kept and refined, while failed designs were tossed out. After a hundred independent runs of the algorithm, the most promising designs were selected for testing.


Gee can't wait for these guys to marry up these evolutionary algorithms with advanced AI and automatic production of prototype organisms...our artificially intelligent machines should be able to conjure up just about anything from a 100% fatal simulated bacteria or virus, to a simulated mini-TRex with a particular preference for human protein.

It's a brave new world baby!

Say hello to your new organic robot neighbours




posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 06:18 AM
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a reply to: mobiusmale
This is not a baby step at all. It can change the whole game.

By other hand, someone could weaponize it or maybe these little guys one day decide they don't want to be our slaves anymore.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 06:26 AM
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a reply to: Trueman

Considering all they can do is move toward a target and perhaps pick up a payload i really don't see them having that many wants.

They're not sentient nor possess any form of high-level AI just a tool designed to perform a specific set of tasks.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 06:56 AM
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originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: Trueman

Considering all they can do is move toward a target and perhaps pick up a payload i really don't see them having that many wants.

They're not sentient nor possess any form of high-level AI just a tool designed to perform a specific set of tasks.


But technology rarely stays idle.

I don't see anyone being content with where this stands.... Someone, somewhere will take this further, would be my guess.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:14 AM
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a reply to: mobiusmale

Scary stuff.
Imagine trillions of little single cell Frankenstein monsters, programmed to form a big Frankenstein monster.... that can divide and reproduce itself.
Someone should write a screenplay before this thing kills us all.

I just had another thought.
What if men in black are made up of these things?
edit on b000000312020-01-14T07:15:30-06:0007America/ChicagoTue, 14 Jan 2020 07:15:30 -0600700000020 by butcherguy because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:16 AM
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originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: Trueman
Considering all they can do is move toward a target and perhaps pick up a payload i really don't see them having that many wants.
They're not sentient nor possess any form of high-level AI just a tool designed to perform a specific set of tasks.


This is just the start and there is no way to predict how it will evolve.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:20 AM
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originally posted by: mobiusmale
Wait...the first living what?



A book is made of wood. But it is not a tree. The dead cells have been repurposed to serve another need.

Now a team of scientists has repurposed living cells—scraped from frog embryos—and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These millimeter-wide "xenobots" can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient)—and heal themselves after being cut.

"These are novel living machines," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism."


This is fantastic...what could possibly go wrong?






posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:30 AM
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a reply to: dfnj2015

Well, someone has to say it. Zombie Apocalypse.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:33 AM
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S & F for a very interesting, intriguing, and yet somewhat disturbing thread. This is the first I have ever heard of living animal cells being combined with an artificial robot. Now I can see the potential benefits and what they are trying to do to use it for healing and such. But two things, the first being that they are (according to the op) not only trying frog cells but hundreds of different organisms and keeping the ones that could prove viable while eliminating ones that aren't. Gee what the hell could go wrong with that? (Sarc). I can only imagine with what they might try with sulfur or arsenic based lifeforms found in the most extreme environments in the world. There is no telling what THAT or any other life forms cells combined with robotics will create. The second thing is these frog cells and the others they have been obtaining from other organisms combining with even a millimeter wide robot and being put in the human body, could In fact cause mutations to the robots cells genes (frog cells or otherwise) which could potentially create a deadly bacteria or virus that can then be transmitted and then you may have a pandemic on hand that we would have really no idea how to fix or stop. And we know eventually (if not already) the government, DARPA or government funded contractors will be looking to weaponize this stuff. Then I can only imagine if it ends up being tied with AI and the problems that will create. If that happens with advanced AI it could try to create all sorts of new lifeforms even it's idea of a "new" human. Think about that for a minute and let it sink in.... disturbing to say the least!



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:38 AM
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All I can think of is an all consuming grey liquid that strips barren everything in it's path.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 07:58 AM
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Isn't this how the replicators started in Stargate SG1?
They ended up taking over the universe.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 08:02 AM
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originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: Trueman

Considering all they can do is move toward a target and perhaps pick up a payload i really don't see them having that many wants.

They're not sentient nor possess any form of high-level AI just a tool designed to perform a specific set of tasks.


Well, from what we're told is that's all it's able to do. They are not going to tell us the parts that we're not supposed to know about.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 08:26 AM
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Well there is the move where the government made a polymer that consumes and grows.
What could go wrong?

Warning: it is quite gruesome.

edit on 1 14 2020 by beyondknowledge because: (no reason given)

edit on 1 14 2020 by beyondknowledge because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 08:36 AM
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That isn't life. You can give an electrical charge to a muscle taken out of an animal and it can do work. This appears to utilize special chemistry to trigger a manmade muscle type organism to work. It is far from a robot. It doesn't make any difference if you use electric ions or chemicals to move tissue, it still does not justify calling it a living robot yet.

I am sure that someday they will create an organic robot, but this does not qualify yet, cells can be cultured in a medium to make an organism, steering it's development can be done by varying frequencies



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 08:41 AM
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originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: Trueman

Considering all they can do is move toward a target and perhaps pick up a payload i really don't see them having that many wants.

They're not sentient nor possess any form of high-level AI just a tool designed to perform a specific set of tasks.




the computer would, over and over, reassemble a few hundred simulated cells into myriad forms and body shapes


Let that sink in a bit...a human (later AI??) tells the computer it wants to create a new life form that is designed to complete a certain kind of task. The computer (evolutionary algorithm) then comes up with multiple potential cellular structures (based on the raw material in its inventory...in this case frog stem cells) - and then assembles the "simulated cells" it creates into "myriad forms and body shapes".

These final structures...a new organism...then move about the world on their own (and can actually heal themselves!) to perform their designated function (and, I suppose, whatever other functions they stumble upon that help to sustain themselves).

Is there really any practical limitation to the scale this can work on? Is it really, based on what they are already doing, that far-fetched to imagine them moving on from millimeter scale to centimeter scale, to decimeter scale...to meter scale?

This is extremely troubling stuff - and I say again, when the computer that is performing all of these creation activities gets married to AI capabilites, this becomes flat out nightmarish.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 08:49 AM
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a reply to: mobiusmale

I am curious what the failed algorithm designs did that excluded them from the actual testing? I mean if a simple tweak of the algorithm creates a defective or destructive organism, I don't believe that is a risk that should be chanced.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 09:03 AM
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a reply to: mobiusmale

Wow! Just wow. I originally heard of this in relation to robots to be used to keep Astronauts healthy on long distance trips. This is right here on Earth.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 09:11 AM
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originally posted by: CynConcepts
a reply to: mobiusmale

I am curious what the failed algorithm designs did that excluded them from the actual testing? I mean if a simple tweak of the algorithm creates a defective or destructive organism, I don't believe that is a risk that should be chanced.


Yes, you are quite right.

I expect that, in some cases, the organism simply failed to move...or moved in the wrong manner or direction. But it is just as easy to imagine that a novel organism might get rejected because it ended up having a harmful (rather than a helpful) effect, visa vie the targeted activity/task.

One man's undesirable effect is another man's desirable though. Easy enough to envision military organizations going through the "failed" pile to find potentially useful harmful effects of these little critters.
edit on 14-1-2020 by mobiusmale because: typo



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 09:16 AM
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originally posted by: CriticalStinker

originally posted by: andy06shake
a reply to: Trueman

Considering all they can do is move toward a target and perhaps pick up a payload i really don't see them having that many wants.

They're not sentient nor possess any form of high-level AI just a tool designed to perform a specific set of tasks.


But technology rarely stays idle.

I don't see anyone being content with where this stands.... Someone, somewhere will take this further, would be my guess.



I'm sure the DOD has already allocated big $$$ grants to their researcher people to explore the military applications; then the private sector get the crumbs.



posted on Jan, 14 2020 @ 09:19 AM
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a reply to: olaru12

Probably piggy backing under the darpa autonomous robot contest.

If memory serves correctly we justified it because of the need after Fukushima. Some valves could have been turned by robots and diverted larger scale disaster.

But I'm sure the true motives have a much larger scope.



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