These ‘living robots’ self-replicate — and it’s not terrifying

By | November 29, 2021

The Daily Beast reports:

You might have missed the debut of the Xenobots last year when the world was falling apart, but they made quite a splash in the science and tech community. These Pac-Man-shaped synthetic organisms designed by supercomputers can organize into larger groups and be programmed to fulfill specific functions. They’re certainly not robots in the traditional sense, but they’re also too artificial to qualify as typical living organisms. They’re part cell, part machine, and completely one-of-a-kind.

As if all of that wasn’t already wild enough, the inventors of the Xenobots have just added one more trick up their creations’ sleeves—the ability to self-replicate. The implications of the new breakthrough, published Monday in the journal PNAS, are enormous. Scientists were already jazzed about the idea of one day using Xenobots for clinical applications and for cleaning up the environment. But the ability to replicate means this technology, if controlled, could be allowed to fulfill those tasks with more autonomy and on a larger scale.

“We found Xenobots that walk. We found Xenobots that swim. And now, in this study, we’ve found Xenobots that kinematically replicate,” Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and co-author of the new study, said in a press release. “What else is out there?” [Continue reading…]

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