Xenobots designed by artificial intelligence can now take their place in the medical world. The structures created are biologically self-replicating. In the same time Regenerative Medicine It is also thought to be a promising invention for We can literally say that "The First Living Robot Has Been Created" that can be used in regenerative medicine by researchers.
The continuation of life is based on reproduction. Over billions of years organisms have survived by replication, from budding plants, animals, and invading viruses.
Now scientists have discovered a completely new form of biological reproduction. Their discoveries were the first self-replicating living robots.
It is the same team that built the first living robots (“Xenobots assembled from frog cells” – reported in 2020).
Computer-designed and hand-assembled organisms can swim to find a single cell, or assemble hundreds of them.
They can assemble "baby" Xenobots in their Pac-Man-shaped "mouths". A few days later, they can create new Xenobots that look and act just like them.
"With the right design, these organisms will spontaneously make copies," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist, robotics expert, and co-director of the new research at the University of Vermont. The results of this research were published on November 29, 2021 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In a Xenopus laevis frog, these embryonic cells develop into the skin. "We're putting embryonic cells from pre-frog stages into a new context," says Michael Levin at Tufts University. We're giving them a chance to reimagine their multicellularity." makes a statement.
What they imagine is something very different from leather. “People have long thought that life can reproduce or reproduce and we have figured out all the ways.
"These cells have the genome of a frog, but when they're freed from being tadpoles, they use their collective intelligence, a plasticity, to do something amazing."
Plasticity; It means that the brain has the capacity to change and restructure as a result of its interaction with the environment and learning experience.
Researchers were surprised to find in previous experiments that Xenobots could be designed to accomplish simple tasks.
Now for the second time they were surprised to see that a computer-designed collection of cells would self-replicate.
Levin's statements are as follows;
- "We have the complete, unaltered frog genome, and these cells have yet to give us any clue that they might work together in the new task."
- "These are frog cells that reproduce very differently than frogs do."
No animal or plant known to science reproduces this way," says Sam Kriegman, lead author of the new study.
The Xenobot parent, consisting of about 3.000 cells, forms a sphere of its own. “These can reproduce, but the system normally dies after that. It's actually very difficult to keep the system reproducing,” Kriegman says.
But an artificial intelligence and evolutionary algorithm working on the supercomputer cluster was able to test the cells' billions of body shapes (triangles, squares, pyramids, starfish) to find those that allow the cells to move on their own.
The movement-based "kinematics" structure reported in the new research may be more effective in reproduction.
“We asked the UVM (University Of Vermont) supercomputer to figure out how to adjust the shape of the first parents,” Kriegman said.
“After months of work, the AI has found some strange designs, including ones that look like Pac-Man,” he says.
“It seems very simple, although not very intuitive. But it's not something a human engineer would come up with. Why a tiny mouth?
As a result of the researchers' discussion of the results, parent Xenobots in the form of Pac-Man were made. Then parents formed children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren”.
In other words, the right design greatly increased the number of generations. Kinematic replication is well known at the molecular level.
But it has never been observed before on the scale of whole cells or organisms.
prof. “We discovered that there is a previously unknown area within organisms or living systems, and it's a very broad area,” says Bongard.
He enumerates the following statements:
- So how do we begin to explore that space?
- We found walking Xenobots. We found floating Xenobots.
- Now, in this study, we found Xenobots replicating kinematically. What else is there?
- Or, as the scientists write: “life contains surprising behaviors just below the surface waiting to be discovered.”
Some people may find these studies exciting. Others may react with apprehension, even fear, to the concept of a self-replicating biotechnology. For scientists, the goal is to have a deeper understanding.
Risks That Will Affect Our Lives
“One of the most important risks is the pandemic. Accelerating ecosystem damage from pollution and increasing threats from climate change,” says Bongard.
“This is an ideal system for studying self-replicating systems. We also have a moral obligation to understand the conditions under which we can control it, manipulate it, extinguish it, exaggerate it.”
Bongard points to the COVID pandemic and the search for a vaccine. “The speed at which we produce solutions is very important. If we can develop technologies, we can learn from Xenobots to quickly tell AI: “We need a biological tool that does X and Y and suppresses Z” – this could be very useful.
Today, that takes a very long time.” The team aims to have people identify a problem and quickly find a solution to it.
“It's like using living machines to remove microplastics from waterways or create new drugs,” says Bongard.
“We need to create technological solutions that grow at the same rate as the challenges we face,” he says.
And the team sees hope in research for advances into regenerative medicine.
“If we knew how to tell collections of cells to do what we want, ultimately, that is regenerative medicine.
“We can find solutions to traumatic injury, birth defects, cancer and aging.”
“All these different problems are here because we don't know how to predict and control which cell groups will be built. Xenobots are a new platform to teach us.”