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Thread: Xenobots

  1. #1
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    Xenobots

    ...an interesting article that discusses artificial entities that are neither living nor ...not living:

    Meet the Xenobots, Virtual Creatures Brought to Life - The New York Times

    MEDFORD, Mass. — If the last few decades of progress in artificial intelligence and in molecular biology hooked up, their love child — a class of life unlike anything that has ever lived — might resemble the dark specks doing lazy laps around a petri dish in a laboratory at Tufts University.

    Douglas Blackiston, a biologist, pointed to one just a little wider than a human hair; squint, and you could just tell it was moving. But under a microscope, the blob was racing up and to the left. “He’s a lighter —,” Dr. Blackiston said, then caught himself. “It’s a lighter color.”
    Strictly speaking, these life-forms do not have sex organs — or stomachs, brains or nervous systems. The one under the microscope consisted of about 2,000 living skin cells taken from a frog embryo. Bigger specimens, albeit still smaller than a millimeter-wide poppy seed, have skin cells and heart muscle cells that will begin pulsating by the end of the day.

    These are all programmable organisms called xenobots, the creation of which was revealed in a scientific paper in January. They are named for the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis, which supplies all their cells, and the suggestion, encapsulated in the prefix, that something strange, alien, is at work.

    A xenobot lives for only about a week, feeding on the small platelets of yolk that fill each of its cells and would normally fuel embryonic development. Because its building blocks are living cells, the entity can heal from injury, even after being torn almost in half. But what it does during its short life is decreed not by the ineffable frogginess etched into its DNA — which has not been genetically modified — but by its physical shape.

    And xenobots come in many shapes, all designed by roboticists in computer simulations, using physics engines similar to those in video games like Fortnite and Minecraft. Xenobots with a fork- or snowplow-like appendage in the front can sweep up loose particles (in a petri dish) overnight, depositing them in a pile. Some use legs, of a sort, to shuffle around on the floor of the dish. Others swim, using beating cilia, or link up blobby appendages and circle each other a few times before heading off in separate directions.

    All of which makes xenobots amazing and maybe slightly unsettling — golems dreamed in silicon and then written into flesh. The implications of their existence could spill from artificial-intelligence research to fundamental questions in biology and ethics.


    ...article continues with a number of illustrations: Meet the Xenobots, Virtual Creatures Brought to Life - The New York Times



    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    Dragonfly's Avatar
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    some journalist got bored and went for a pot experience while writing his next article,

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    I was always taught that the definition of a life form was

    M ovement
    A ssimilation
    R espiration
    R eproduction
    I rritation
    G rowth
    E xcretion


    These things do not appear to be able to reproduce.

  4. #4
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    blobby appendages
    the one true g0d

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Xenobots-1280px-touched_by_his_noodly_appendage_hd-jpg  

  5. #5
    Cenosillicaphobiac
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    These things do not appear to be able to reproduce.

    It's a good thing.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    These things do not appear to be able to reproduce.
    ...I doubt xenobot reproduction is much of a challenge to these scientists...

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