The world’s first “living robot” research team answers questions online without panic


Editor’s note: This article is from WeChat public account Xin Zhi Yuan (ID: AI_era), 36 氪 Authorized release source | github editor | Daming, Zhang Jia Yesterday, we reported that “the world’s first living robot” has caused heated discussion among netizens, and some people worry”New species” evolved humans themselves. It ’s hard for people to think about it. Will people be created like this? Some people have doubts about some research details. Today, we share the answers of researchers to this research. The answers you want to knowIt’s all here.Yesterday, we reported that “the world’s first living robot” caused a lot of sensation.(Review: 100% frog genes! The world’s first programmable “living robot” was born: it can be cut in half and can be sewn on its own!) This living robot named “Xenobots” was reorganized from frog epidermal cells and heart cellsA new life form that can move, “deliver”, and heal itself after cutting.The astonishing research on the reorganization process of living robots comes from the teams of the University of Vermont and Tufts University, and is published in the top journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS).”They are neither traditional robots nor known animal species, but a new class of artifacts: a living, programmable organism,” said Joshua Bongard, corresponding author of the Joshua Bongard paper and a computer scientist at the University of Vermont.As soon as they came out, the reaction of the people around the world was probably this: After confirming no fraud, many netizens in the comment area expressed their fears and concerns about this research: Some netizens have a brain hole: Is this how humans were created??Some netizens are very interested in the details of this research. Next, we have compiled the questions and answers from researchers about this research and shared with you, all you want to know is here.100% frog genes, computer designed, but AI is unlikely to intentionally design harmful organisms. Q: Where is the greater significance of this research?Is it just a robot made of frog cells?Answer: How do cells cooperate with each other to build a complex and functional organism?How do they know what structure to construct and what signals to exchange?This is especially important for the biomedical industry.At present, almost all problems in the field of medicine, including infectious disease research, have finally focused on the control of anatomy.If we can build the required 3D anatomy, we can repair newborn defects, reconstruct tumors into normal tissues, promote the regeneration of wounded tissues, and better fight the problems of aging.Self-healing stem cell biology and gene editing technology after incision cannot solve the above problems by themselves.These living robots can be used as a kind of “sandbox” to observe the developmental capabilities of cells in addition to their normal developmental morphology.Our “living robot” this time uses 100% frog genes, but its appearance and behavior characteristics are not like frogs at all, and these behaviors are performed without a background of biological evolution and without facing the pressure of natural selection.Once we have figured out what special structures can be constructed by cells under the appropriate stimulation conditions, the research on “regenerative medicine” may achieve new major breakthroughs, and it will promote new research on robots, communication systems and AI platforms.The current long-term goal is to clarify the ability of living cells to build special structures, and use this ability to solve problems that cannot be directly solved by existing micromanipulation technologies (such as constructing artificial eyes, artificial hands, etc.).We have reason to believe that this paper is only the first step in a series of future research breakthroughs.Q: What kind of biological tissue can be used to create computer-designed organisms?Answer: Frog skin (green part below) and myocardium (red part).Both are derived from Xenopus embryonic cells from the blastocyst stage.These tissues naturally grow cilia, but we remove the cilia and create living (rather than swimming) creatures.Q: How big are they?Answer: The red / green creature shown above is about 0.7 mm.Q: Why are they considered creatures?A: They “survived” for about 7 days, after which they ceased functioning (a positive feature in terms of the safety of synthetic biological structures).Although they don’t have a brain, like many living things on Earth, they exhibit functional behavior, can heal themselves when damaged, and work together.They cannot reproduce, but some naturally-developed organisms cannot reproduce.The question of what constitutes an organism is actually not easy to answer.The birth of this “synthetic living machine” will push biologists to define the “organism” in a deeper and stricter way.Q: Are they aquatic organisms?Answer: They live in fresh water and can survive between 4 and 27 degrees.Q: Do they eat?Answer: Organisms come pre-loaded with their own food sources (lipids and protein deposits), so they can survive for more than a week.However, if grown in nutrient-rich cell culture media, their lifespan can be extended to weeks or months.Q: What can they do?A: So far, they can move, swim, push / carry objects, and work in groups.Application 1: Collective Behavior Application 2: Object Manipulation Q: How do computers design creatures?A: Computers model the dynamics of biological building blocks (skin and heart muscle) and use them like Lego bricks to build different biological anatomy.The evolutionary algorithm starts with a large number of random designs, iteratively deletes the worst design and replaces it with a better design.This is the evolution of the “survival of the fittest” inside the computer.Then select the most suitable design in virtual reality and build it with real biological tissue.Q: Why are computer-designed organisms (hereinafter referred to as CDOs) referred to as “reconfigurable organisms” in the paper?A: It is different from frogs to piece together frog cells to form a new structure.AI has reconfigured the composition of frogs through natural selection configuration, creating new forms and new functions.The aggregated cells of the obtained organism can also be isolated.And recombination to form new organisms.Q: Are these new architectures out of our control?A: The entire process has not evolved: these CDOs have no reproductive organs and they degrade and fail after 7 days.However, living organisms are constantly evolving.The best way to deal with this fact is to learn more and learn more.Q: Compared with micro robots, what are the advantages and disadvantages of CDO?Answer: Micro robots are made of metal, ceramic, and plastic, so they are more robust. In theory, they have a longer life than CDOs.However, some metals can be harmful to the internal organs.CDO is fully biocompatible and biodegradable.Q: If AI did design these creatures, would evil (or ignorance) AI design harmful creatures?Answer: AI is unlikely to design harmful organisms intentionally, but it may inadvertently produce harmful side effects in the design.Therefore, we believe that all computer-designed technologies (including biology) need to be manually verified before they can enter the creation process, let alone practical applications.In addition, the regulation of such technologies is an important issue to be addressed in the policy area.Overall, this design is potentially less harmful than what is currently being done in the fields of virology, bacteriology, and gene editing.Q: Will anyone program AI to design a CDO that can be weaponized?Answer: In theory it will.For now, though, evil genius biologists may be able to design such things more easily than AI.We believe that with the maturity of this technology, it is imperative to develop relevant specifications and regulations as soon as possible.However, this technology is much less likely to be misused than bacteria, viruses and other technologies.Q: Is there any source code that can design virtual creatures yourself?Answer: Yes, you can check it out

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