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Scientists Created World’s First ‘Living Robots’ That Can Reproduce


Scientists Created World’s First ‘Living Robots’ That Can Reproduce

It could be the solution to congenital disabilities, cancer, and aging.

In 2020, a team of researchers declared they would create synthetic lifeforms made up of skin cells and heart muscle cells derived from frog embryos. These creations were named Xenobots, and they came from the scientific name for the African clawed frog: Xenopus Laevis

Positively, scientists have managed to create robots that can reproduce on their own. As seen in a report published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the Xenobots were seen moving, pushing, and carrying objects, which could have real-world applications in cleaning up micro-plastics or in the medical field.

A New Scientist report has disclosed that the frog cell-based Xenobots can self-reproduce.

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via Dr. Douglas Blackiston and Dr. Sam Kriegman

Co-Author Professional Michael Levin explained how it could be the solution to traumatic injury, aging, cancer, and birth defects to enhance the ability to tell the robots what to do. But then the Xenobots were also seen reproducing and doing so in a way scientists hadn’t seen before.

“We find that synthetic multicellular assemblies can also replicate kinematically by moving and compressing disassociated cells in their environment into functional self-copies. This form of perpetuation, previously unseen in any organism, arises spontaneously over days rather than evolving over millennia.” The study stated.

The C-shaped xenobots collect and compress loosed stem cells into piles which then mature into offspring.

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via Dr. Douglas Blackiston

In a press release via IFLScience, the study’s co-author Dr. Douglas Blackiston also revealed that “People have thought for quite a long time that we’ve worked out all the ways that life can reproduce or replicate. But this is something that’s never been observed before.” The Lead Author Dr. Sam Kriegman added: “These are frog cells replicating in a way that is very different from how frogs do it. No animal or plant known to science replicates in this way.” 

Nonetheless, the team has since observed that synthetic lifeforms would die after reproducing, which is inefficient regarding playing God and technically making things better. They consulted their artificial intelligence supercomputer and requested it to develop a design that would ensure it stayed alive after making self-copies.

However, it’s stated that Xenobots could be the solution to traumatic injury, birth defects, cancer, and aging.

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via Dr. Douglas Blackiston and Dr. Sam Kriegman

After a few months and different calculations, the supercomputer developed a blueprint that the Xenobots could be made from, and it was something similar to Pac-Man. Dr. Kriegman explained: “It’s very non-intuitive. It looks very simple, but it’s not something a human engineer would come up with. We sent the results to Doug, and he built these Pac-Man-shaped parent Xenobots.”

“Then those parents built children, who built grandchildren, who built great-grandchildren, who built great-great-grandchildren.” On the other hand, the team insisted they have control over the self-replicating biotechnology and are at the moment contained in the lab. Similarly, they have been vetted by federal state and institutional ethics experts.

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