Scientists Use Stems Cells From Frogs To Build First Living Robots (The Guardian)
Research Paper: A scalable pipeline for designing reconfigurable organisms - by Sam Kriegman, Douglas Blackiston, Michael Levin, and Josh Bongard (2020)


: "Here we show a scalable pipeline for creating functional novel lifeforms: AI methods automatically design diverse candidate lifeforms in silico to perform some desired function, and transferable designs are then created using a cell-based construction toolkit to realize living systems with the predicted behaviors. Although some steps in this pipeline still require manual intervention, complete automation in future would pave the way to designing and deploying unique, bespoke living systems for a wide range of functions."

#Comment: Impressive research and ongoing work - congrats! But beyond the praises, please allow me to offer some critical reflections: As usual, the media (and researchers) is willingly mislabeling and exaggerating. Evolutionary Soft-robotics, ALife etc. are progressing, sure. But is this a "first living machine", as is loudly claimed in some of the articles about this work? Humans still lack a functional, semi-universal definition of what constitutes "living". Such questions are by and large still at the same stage, as when Schrödinger published "What Is Life?" in 1944. The reporting on this research contains many other such fantastical claims ("Xenobots SOON could be used to deliver medicine to humans" etc.), presented as hard science/engineering reality - even it clearly encompasses a manifold of unsolved hard problems and questions and is deep in fundamental research territory. More humbleness and restraint would serve all involved parties very well. It makes for good science and a robust public discourse, unlike the hype driven 15min-of-fame click-bait madness of today. 

Related: My mini docu "Life": EP 1 on Artificial Life, and EP 2 on Neurorobotics

More media news clips feat. the research:

Computer-designed organisms - interview with Josh Bongard

Computer designed organisms. Aired on CNN Jan 19, 2020.

#ALife #Robot #ML #Biology #Biotech