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Living robots made in a lab have found a new way to self-replicate, researchers say

NPR Technology

A dozen organisms designed by artificial intelligence known as xenobots (C-shaped; beige) beside loose frog stem cells (white). A dozen organisms designed by artificial intelligence known as xenobots (C-shaped; beige) beside loose frog stem cells (white). Scientists say they've witnessed a never-before-seen type of replication in organic robots created in the lab using frog cells. Among other things, the findings could have implications for regenerative medicine. The discovery involves a xenobot – a simple, "programmable" organism that is created by assembling stem cells in a Petri dish -- and is described by a team of researchers from Tufts University, Harvard University and the University of Vermont in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Artificial Intelligence: Cure for What Ails Us, or Looming Threat to the World?


Two scientific papers impressed me this week, both in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The first is by researchers led by Sam Kriegman at the University of Vermont, who present a method for designing "biological machines" from the ground up. They emphasize the potential good this might do by allowing the creation of "living machines" that safely deliver drugs inside the human body or assist with cleaning up the environment. The other paper is a collaboration of the Max Planck Institute in Germany with the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. Led by Manuel Alfonseca, the authors claim that based on computability theory, a superintelligent AI cannot be contained, and thus poses a threat to all of us.

Five documentaries to watch for Oscar season

Los Angeles Times

There's no Oscar category tougher to predict than documentary feature, but at this point in the year it's clear the academy has an embarrassment of riches to choose from -- 145 have been submitted this year. There are no sure things, but here's a look at just a handful of the contenders. Movies have often been the place where dreams come true, but in Lonny Price's "Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened," getting what you always wanted is more complicated than it sounds. For Price and his fellow cast members, getting cast in a new musical written by Stephen Sondheim and directed by Hal Prince was an almost unimaginable break, more so because they were all in their teens and early 20s. "It's like a kid who wants to be an astronaut and NASA comes and says, 'Would you like to go to the moon?'" Price, now 57, says.

Scientists made tiny xenobots out of frog cells. Now they say those robots can reproduce.


Life finds a way, and the same goes for even robots, according to a group of scientists who say the first living robotic life forms can reproduce. In January 2020, a team of scientists from the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University took stem cells from African clawed frog embryos and formed them into tiny living creatures called xenobots. The xenobots, which are less than 0.04 inches wide, were able to move on their own, communicate amongst each other and heal themselves from an injury, making them the first-ever living robots. But over one year later, the computer-designed creatures have begun to do "something that's never been observed before." What the team of scientists discovered was the xenobots would move around their environment and find single cells.

World's First 'Living Machine' Created Using Frog Cells and Artificial Intelligence


What happens when you take cells from frog embryos and grow them into new organisms that were "evolved" by algorithms? You get something that researchers are calling the world's first "living machine." Though the original stem cells came from frogs -- the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis -- these so-called xenobots don't resemble any known amphibians. The tiny blobs measure only 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) wide and are made of living tissue that biologists assembled into bodies designed by computer models, according to a new study. These mobile organisms can move independently and collectively, can self-heal wounds and survive for weeks at a time, and could potentially be used to transport medicines inside a patient's body, scientists recently reported.