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January 4, 2011 / Martijn

Rise of the Robo Scientists

Some scientific questions are so complex that designing and carrying out the experiments needed to find answers requires a prohibitive amount of scientists’ time. Robot scientists could fill the void. One prototype, called Adam, can originate hypotheses about yeast genes and theirfunctions, design experiments to test the ideas and conduct the work. Using artificial intelligence, reasoning and robotic hardware, Adam discovered three genes that encode specific yeast enzymes, a determination human scientists had not been able to make. Skeptics say Adam is not a scientist, because it requires human input and occasional intervention. But together, human and robot scientists could achieve more than either one alone.



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