Robot or Zombie?
Recent reports of a living robot might be a bit premature, but it’s definitely a step in that direction.
The team from the University of Vermont have produced a living organism from Xenopus genus frog stem cells. The organism uses skin and cardiac cells to make an organism that can move and potentially carry materials from one place to another.
The real cleaver aspect to the research is the AI design process behind the organism, which is first designed in a virtual petri dish, with the optimum organism being grown in virtual space on a super computer, before being built to that design manually, cell by cell. This process will be automated in later trials.
The organism is being described by the researchers as a Xenobot but the organism isn’t strictly speaking, a living organism by most definitions, it has no reproductive cells. Likewise, it isn’t in any way programmable or reactive in its environment. Next stage trials are planned to include sensory cells such as light or chemo receptors and eventually possibly neuro cells for processing and even decision making. There will be a moral and regulatory course to navigate here.
As this research progresses it will increasingly push the boundaries of what is living and as possible applications come to light, what robots are. At this stage however, this living, non-life organism, capable of only stumbling forwards, would perhaps, be more accurate to described as a Xenozombie. We watch with interest to see how this technology progresses, could it be the embryonic beginnings of a new world or organo-robotics.
You can find out more about the research here:-