Robo-researcher

Will robots one day replace human scientists at lab benches?

Tia Ghose
Apr 1, 2009
Though robots have been essential pieces of research equipment for years, they've mostly handled repetitive, simple tasks that required little thought. Now robots are coming into their own as scientists, forming hypotheses and designing experiments to test them.Ross King, a computer scientist at Aberystwyth University, in England, and colleagues at Cambridge University have spent the last ten years trying to make robots that can pore over data, form hypotheses, and test them out. Recently, their all-in-one scientist, dubbed Adam, has actually been able to make new discoveries by pinpointing the genes that encode orphan enzymes in yeast. The researchers report the findings in this week's Science. Adam ran a customized computer program scanning the yeast genome and learning models of yeast metabolism. The robot then sifted through all this data and used a mash of bioinformatic software to form hypotheses, while other software developed experimental protocols. Adam formed deletion...

Adam at work
Video courtesy: FFAB:UK




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