Science has been breaching the realm of science fiction for years now. From super intelligent AI to robots with real brain cells, modern science is evermore leaning towards the fantastical. That urge to keep moving forward has resulted in the newly dubbed ‘Xenobots’, the world's first “living robots”.
Living Robots created by scientists learn how to reproduce
Reported by CNN, a group of United States scientists have created animal-machine hybrids capable of reproducing. The scientists from University of Vermont, Tufts and Harvard claim to have created a species that reproduces in a way never before seen in nature.
Created from the stem cells of African clawed frogs, the Xenobots are smart microorganisms with multiple abilities. For example, the microscopic species has been seen moving and working together in groups. Additionally, they've got the ability to self-heal.
However, what's most striking is their ability to reproduce. The Xenobots reproduce through “Kinetic Reputation”, a form of reproduction that's only found in single molecules. To replicate, the organisms eat up stem cells, incubate them in their mouth, and out pops soothe Xenobot.
Are they actually living robots?
Despite the scientists claims, there has been some commotion as to whether or not these organisms can be classed as robots. In the Latin phrase, robot means slave, but in the modern sense robot is a mechanical tool.
Most people think of robots as made of metals and ceramics but it's not so much what a robot is made from but what it does, which is act on its own on behalf of people," explained study author Josh Bongard. "In that way it's a robot but it's also clearly an organism made from genetically unmodified frog cell."
Another argument is in the way that the Xenobots were designed. The scientists used artificial intelligence to help design and perfect the “living robots”. After the first wave of replications, a computer program was used to enhance the organisms into a more effective shape. This resulted in the species’ “Pac-Man” shape.
"The AI didn't program these machines in the way we usually think about writing code. It shaped and sculpted and came up with this Pac-Man shape," Bongard told CNN. "The shape is, in essence, the program. The shape influences how the xenobots behave to amplify this incredibly surprising process."
Are Xenobots dangerous?
Of course, with a story as terrifying as “living robots able to reproduce” the stories always result in the possible dangers. Right now, the scientists behind the Xenobots claim that the organisms are currently harmless.
While it is true that the research was developed with military funding, the team claims that the technology shouldn't result in harm. The team claims that they are “entirely contained in a lab and easily extinguished”.