News Brief: Scientists create the first ‘Living Machine’


With the help of stem cells from the African clawed frog, scientists have grown and evolved their own organism using algorithms: the Xenobot. 

The term “xeno” refers to something of a different origin, highlighting the fact that the Xenobot is an artificially made creature, or a “living, programmable organism,” as described by Joshua Bongard, a professor of computer science at the University of Vermont and a leading researchers. Bongard also reports that the Xenobot has the ability to walk, swim, self-heal wounds and survive for weeks if given enough nutrition.

According to their website, Computer-Designed Organisms, the Xenobot can potentially be useful in many ways such “searching for radioactive contamination, gathering plastic pollution and traveling through the human body to wipe out plague.”

When asked how exactly the researchers managed to make an organism through computer models, the team revealed that first “an evolutionary algorithm generates randomly-assembled designs, then deletes the worse ones and replace them with better ones,” and only the best of the designs are “built out of real biological tissue.”
It can also be used to defeat a number of medical issues, such as birth defects, tumors and even the natural occurrence of the human body—aging. This seems like a very large step towards the future, and it is definitely a welcome one. Not only does the future of science and humanity look bright, but contemporary developments are encouraging the urge to discover and experiment with the unknown. Hopefully one day we may understand it and turn it into something more.

The Xenobot has an appearance of a tiny blob, about 0.7 millimeters wide. Designed by computer models, the Xenobot is created to help solve matters inside the body, as well as around the world.

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