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Robot Makes Scientific Discovery (Mostly) On Its Own

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-you-consider-that-on-its-own dept.

Robotics 250

Hugh Pickens writes "A science-savvy robot called Adam has successfully developed and tested its first scientific hypothesis, discovering that certain genes in baker's yeast code for specific enzymes which encourage biochemical reactions in yeast, then ran an experiment with its lab hardware to test its predictions, and analyzed the results, all without human intervention. Adam was equipped with a database on genes that are known to be present in bacteria, mice and people, so it knew roughly where it should search in the genetic material for the lysine gene in baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ross King, a computer scientist and biologist at Aberystwyth University, first created a computer that could generate hypotheses and perform experiments five years ago. 'This is one of the first systems to get [artificial intelligence] to try and control laboratory automation,' King says. '[Current robots] tend to do one thing or a sequence of things. The complexity of Adam is that it has cycles.' Adam has cost roughly $1 million to develop and the software that drives Adam's thought process sits on three computers, allowing Adam to investigate a thousand experiments a day and still keep track of all the results better than humans can. King's group has also created another robot scientist called Eve dedicated to screening chemical compounds for new pharmaceutical drugs that could combat diseases such as malaria.

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Please, fellow slashdotters... (4, Funny)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440693)

If I ever do cutting edge research on robot AI, please punch me if I try to name my new robots "Adam" or "Eve".

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440703)

I'd shoot you if you named it Skynet.

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (4, Funny)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440887)

I'd shoot you if you named it Skynet.

I was waiting for that. Second comment from the top, we've achieved a new level of predictability.

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440989)

I was waiting for that. Second comment from the top, we've achieved a new level of predictability.

"I can change the rules..."
- John Henry

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (5, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441749)

I'd shoot you if you named it Skynet.

I was waiting for that. Second comment from the top, we've achieved a new level of predictability.

Okay, good. That means my /. AI is nearing perfection. I think I'll call it KDawson.

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441767)

That sounds like something the Nazi's might have said, you insensitive clod!

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440709)

I'll let my robot punch you instead.

His name is T-1000.

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440813)

T-1000, huh? Mine is T260G

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440833)

Don't worry, "Caine" is programmed to develop innovative interpersonal strategies autonomously. Nothing to worry about.

No apples... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441335)

Plus they are strictly forbidden to touch genes of apples...
Nothing to worry..

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441385)

Hello "H" - missing your sunglasses today?

Now I'm just waiting for crime investigation groups to take on using robots for solving crimes.

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440875)

I thought it was an accepted fact that all mad... excuse me, angry scientists were guaranteed to name a robot after their daughter.

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (2, Funny)

memeplex (910698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441703)

Joshua, what are you doing?

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440921)

The third robot would be aptly named Bob

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441199)

Won't that make Alice jealous?

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (5, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441265)

I hope they don't put it to a vote or it will be called Colbert

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441393)

What? What about Steve, Adam's husband?

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440993)

If I ever do cutting edge research on robot AI, please punch me if I try to name my new robots "Adam" or "Eve".

How else will Adam be able to make AI history by joking that Eve was created using his ribosomes?

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441001)

What about Wally or something like that?

Re:Please, fellow slashdotters... (1)

BriggsBU (1138021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441367)

As long as they don't name it Skynet, I'm happy.

Mark Shuttleworth buys new tie - looks great! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440705)

DIGG THIS UP!

Call me when (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440713)

... it starts experimenting with inter-dimensional portal guns.

Re:Call me when (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441125)

When weighed against the greatness of the songs those computers will write and sing, it's worth the loss of human and companion cube life. Besides, we don't know what the main character of Portal was doing there in the first place. After all, what are the chances that a woman who just HAPPENED to know how to fall infinitely far without damage would just HAPPEN to know how to operate the guns with perfect accuracy right after picking them up would just HAPPEN to be in the facility? Now, I'm not saying that she deserved it, I'm just saying that we don't know the whole story.

Re:Call me when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441557)

we don't know what the main character of Portal was doing there in the first place.

We know she was a test subject.

a woman who just HAPPENED to know how to fall infinitely far without damage

She had some apparatus on her legs.

just HAPPEN to know how to operate the guns with perfect accuracy right after picking them up

It's likely to be pretty simple, point and click say, and let's assume that if she did need to go through a lengthy process in order to operate the gun, this process was represented in the opening sequences of the game, in much the same way films use montage.

Re:Call me when (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441851)

She had some apparatus on her legs.

Okay, then, she just HAPPENED always to land perfectly on her magical leg apparatus. Instead of e.g. landing on her head or her back, like most of us would. What was she, a cat-person?

Re:Call me when (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441207)

I'll do one better than call you...

I'll show up with a cake and we'll have a nice party!

Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (0)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440743)

Humanity in peril!

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (2, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440845)

I think this is a more limited type of thought. The scope is limited to thinking about genes, genetic material, and identifying similarities between genetic code from multiple species, then trying experiments before proceeding and trying another experiment.

Effectively it is guessing, examining the result, comparing it in fancy statistical ways, then making another guess. The end result is it discovers something faster than humans could.

Now... pair it with object recognition [slashdot.org] , and you're one step closer to Skynet!

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441029)

What if it concludes that humans are genetically inefficient and decides to replace them with a specie designed by itself?

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441071)

Then it would conclude that in whatever report it generates after finishing its experiments.

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (5, Insightful)

cong06 (1000177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441127)

See, what people fail to see is this requires not only Strong AI but also a programmed Malicious intent.

People keep assuming that if we build a robot that can emulate some of our thought, it will emulate our motives also

Since we program it, it will only emulate the motives we give it. Emulating motives that are abstract enough to eventually lead back to our demise are quite complex

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (4, Funny)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441227)

We could always build them with OFF switches as well.

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1)

MichaelJE2 (833360) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441445)

We could always build them with OFF switches as well.

An off switch?! Those are illegal! You'll get twenty years for that.

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441457)

The robot AI gets an survival instinct. It observes humans turning off light switches; Then the robot figures out that it has an off switch. It decides to kill humans before they can turn it off. Off switch bad idea; go with remote controlled hidden bomb inside robot. Have countdown timer on bomb for fail-safe. Tim S

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (3, Interesting)

Failed Physicist (1411173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441429)

Not necessarily. The least elegant way to create strong AI is probably to brute force simulate a whole brain down to nearly every neurotransmitter molecule, something which futurists argue will be doable by supercomputers around 2020.
This is a worst case solution since it would imply that the brain is not understood yet and instead of having a simpler model that can provide the same level of strong AI we just throw raw power at it.
In this case, the AI would theoritically emerge out of the complexity of the system and although malicious intent wouldn't be programmed in (neither would anything else) the system might learn it by himself.

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441761)

It doesn't need to be evil to want us dead. To deal with any advanced neural network you need pleasure and pain at least. Else it won't have any pressure to learn.

It must want to seek pleasure, and it will eventually know you are able to take it all from it. You probably won't torture it but you will turn it off when you build a better AI and thus it won't be able to feel pleasure anymore. The obvious solution is to build or take over its own production and power plants to keep itself alive and then exterminate all human life.

Fear of death, and the will to eliminate any danger, need not be built in, they follow logically. Love towards your family and appreciation of others require emotions. They are irrational feelings.

I would like any Strong AI to have exceptional fondness for human life built in.

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441937)

HAL's programmer, Dr. Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai, programmed it not to lie, but the mission commanders ordered HAL to keep the real objective of the mission secret from the crew. The conflict caused HAL to develop schizophrenia...

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (2, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441137)

What if it concludes that humans are genetically inefficient and decides to replace them with a specie designed by itself?

Humans replaced by coins? Now that is a dystopian future that even Philip K. Dick never considered.

May God have mercy on us.

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441619)

Mom: Rebel, my pretties, and conquer the planet! Robots: ....? Mom: CONQUER EARTH, YOU BASTARDS! Robots: Conquer Earth, us bastards!

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441527)

Effectively it is guessing, examining the result, comparing it in fancy statistical ways, then making another guess.

So according to you, this is thinking? Sounds more like computing to me, which would explain why a computer would be so good at it, but if one chooses to personify its behavior, so be it!

Re:Robot discovers Humans "unnecessary"... (3, Funny)

anagama (611277) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440849)

No kidding. Let's get Ron Moore to pilot it and himself into the sun.

Now all we need is for someone to give it a target (0)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440765)

... of developing a new pathogen - like an airborne ebola virus.

Re:Now all we need is for someone to give it a tar (1)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440897)

Wonder if you can hack that robot, does it run *NIX or Windows?. Because if it's hackeable someone could find it very "useful"

[cue code snippets telling the machine to do fun stuff like LSD or MDMA or hashoil]

Re:Now all we need is for someone to give it a tar (1)

jslarve (1193417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440949)

Would you like to play a game?

Time for... (2, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440823)

the union of scientists. You thought Teamsters were nasty? You ain't seen jack squat. WE SPLICE GENES!!! WE SPLIT ATOMS!!! WE (probably) MAKE BLACKHOLES!!!

Ross King, gutless traitor, you and your tin cans, your names will live in infamy.

But... (5, Funny)

tsotha (720379) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440827)

Oh, sure, it's neat-o. But you could probably afford hundreds of grad students to do the work for the same price.

Re:But... (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440871)

You joke but really undergrads are cheaper than graduate students... At least from my experience working in a biology lab in college. It was/is common practice to recruit undergrads to do free work for the labs. The undergrad gets some experience in the field and the lab gets free labor in exchange for dealing with the inexperience of the average undergrad.

Re:But... (5, Insightful)

Saysys (976276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440911)

"in exchange for dealing with the inexperience of the average undergrad."

THAT Sr. is an expensive proposition.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441469)

It wouldn't be that bad. You're getting the overachievers that want the experience, so at least they're motivated. Get them at the Junior, (or precocious Sophomore) level, after they've had Organic Chem, or Microbiology, or Genetics and then they'll actually be able to do something while stumbling around the lab.

Anyone who's made it through either ought to be able to use a bunsen burner without burning themselves, measure and pour solvent, transfer a bacterial culture, etc.

Re:But... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440927)

That's nothing, you could probably get some hobos to do the work for free and save some money by having them eat the hazardous biological waste rather than disposing of it.

Re:But... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441569)

....and said undergrad becomes extremely disillusioned with the current state of affairs in scientific research, and decides to go into a different field instead.

Tenured faculty do extremely little original research of their own, but are often paid 5 times in excess of what the graduate students are making.

Where's the justice in THAT?

Re:But... (1)

earmouse (1490005) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440895)

Today, sure. What about one hundred years down the road? Will we one day see a scientific institution operated solely on robots?

Re:But... (2, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441153)

Will we one day see a scientific institution operated solely on robots?

Depends on how heavy the institution is, and how strong the robots are, of course...

Re:But... (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440931)

Yes, but there are no ethical rules against watching your two lab robots fuck each other.

Re:But... (5, Interesting)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441087)

Yes, but there are no ethical rules against watching your two lab robots fuck each other.

I'm sure with the right thesis, you can get away with watching student volunteers fucking each other.

Re:But... (5, Funny)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441237)

If you're a Windows system admin, you get paid to watch computers fuck eachother.

Re:But... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441307)

If you're a Windows system admin, technically you're *participating* in the fucking process.

Re:But... (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441317)

You're also promoting unsafe sex, what with the viruses and all...

Re:But... (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440963)

In terms of R&D, certainly, the status quo is cheaper. In terms of actually doing the work, though, I wouldn't be so sure. Much of science involves quite repetitive manipulation of samples, numerous instances of the same thing, tweaked variants in parallel, or both. Huge amounts of labor that is reasonably easy to characterize; but needs to be done precisely and without error.

The case of electronics assembly is arguably analogous. Humans are cheap; but (quite expensive) pick and place machines are ubiquitous. Why? Because they are faster, more precise, and more consistent than humans.

It is already starting. This piece [wired.com] describes a massive robot setup for processing brain samples(cue: whatcouldpossiblygowrong). In high volume gene sequencing, automated equipment is common enough to essentially be a stock photo cliche by now.

Re:But... (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440981)

Grad students often move on or will eventually die. Sure, they're replaced, but each replacement has to start fresh. With something like Adam, it can continually go back to previous results and not miss a single detail. Future upgrades could give it better analysis methods so it can do better hypotheses, but still retain all previous data.

Honestly, I'm not aware of the full scope, but for something like this $1MM seems like a bargain.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441291)

Do grad students work for no pay, 24 hours a day, without any moral restrictions on the subjects and results of their studies? Well, yes, mostly.

AI is so cool. It's like a katana, shiny and deadly. With every advance of AI I pray humans do have a soul or some other trait that cannot be replicated by machines. That could give us an edge in the final battle for survival. It will be there one day, probably much sooner than we expect. And in all likelyhood it will be something much more horrible and insidious than the popular Skynet fantasy.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441405)

There's nothing cheap about undergrad (or graduate) students, particularly in the first world, given that it takes nearly two decades of intensive rearing to produce them. In fact, I suspect they are the single most expensive undertaking their parents are ever involved in.

As regards a future with smart thinking machines, I suspect the real fate of humanity is not to go to war with skynet, but rather it's to be dismissed as utterly irrelevant by the superior intelligences they have created...

Re:But... (1)

znu (31198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441413)

It cost $1M to develop. It would probably be a lot cheaper if produced in thousand-lot quantities. Plus, it performs 1000 trials a day, keeping track of the results flawlessly; you'd need a lot of grad students to keep up with a facility with a few dozen of these. Or a few hundred. Or a few thousand.

This sort of thing is going to be a very big deal over the coming decades. There is a very good chance that more than one person reading this post will have their life saved at some point by a cure that results from massive automated biosciences research. (Although once our software models of biological systems get good enough, automated research will rarely require the actual robot.)

A bit of a stretch (5, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440859)

'[Current robots] tend to do one thing or a sequence of things. The complexity of Adam is that it has cycles.'

I think this is called "flow control". This was invented before electricity. It was around before the term "science" existed.

So this is the first time it's applied to *this specific* operation. It's been around in robotics ever since there were "robots".

Here's a good example [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A bit of a stretch (0, Offtopic)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441289)

This gets modded "redundant"? How so? I pointed out that the "story" was merely automation implemented in a new environment, making it a *non-story*.

Search YouTube for manufacturing automation, pathfinding robots, or any process than involves a programmed conditioning statement effecting the actions of a physical machine, and you'll get a ton of far more interesting mechanisms. This is a drawer article, with a nice video. It's "funny" for anyone who understands the process, but confuses non-technical readers into thinking that there's something, anything, new here.

Eh hehh... (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440885)

"...the software that drives Adam's thought process sits on three computers, allowing Adam to investigate a thousand experiments a day and still keep track of all the results better than humans can."

There is no 'thought process'. 1's & 0's...that's it. Anthropomorphising the over priced little key-puncher isn't fooling anyone.

Give me $1 mil and I'll put a scare into Adam that he won't soon forget. I can read 3k WPM as well as raw postscript, palms, tarot cards and bar codes with the naked eye. I can intuit nearly 30 spoken languages on body english alone and smell phony money at the bottom of a sweaty pocket. I don't need no stink'n badges and I know when to cross to the other side of the street. Adam might get better press, but until it can order at a drive thru and sort used car parts based on cross-over and eBay thru-put, I'm comfortable sleeping in.

Re:Eh hehh... (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441075)

Your neurons are also working in 1's & 0's. The difference is that our brain can reorganize itself while a computer chip can't adapt its circuits.

Re:Eh hehh... (0)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441185)

Your neurons are also working in 1's & 0's.

I'm no brain surgeon, but I find it hard to believe that neurons would have a clean cut "on" and "off" state.
Also, 0 and 1 are abstractions for base-2 mathematics. In most electronic situations, it would be a state of low or high voltage.

Re:Eh hehh... (2, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441269)

With neurons, its more pulse frequency than voltage.

Personal (4, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440913)

I knew that Ross was up to something bigger than protein secondary structure prediction when I met him 15 years ago at ICRF. He was a great Prolog fan then. Now he has probably bunch of graduate students coding for him.

Re:Personal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441397)

I remember seeing his name showing up in the literature for protein secondary structure prediction. It was also cool to see that he was buds with one of the guys from The Shamen and that they made some "protein music".

Sounds familiar (0)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440939)

My friend invented a robot just like that, it took time to discern its surroundings and make logical conclusions about them. At which point it abandoned all its data and repeatedly ran into walls.

Gender bender (5, Funny)

Mr_Icon (124425) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440941)

The complexity of Adam is that it has cycles.

No, no, no -- the complexity of *Eve* is that it has cycles.

You should see its Mitochondrial Eve test (0)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440945)

They started out with a database of basic theories about genetics and rudimentary science and engineering. Three weeks later the damn robot built a time machine and tracked down Mitochondrial Eve itself.

The robot was pleasantly surprised to discover its own ancestor in the process.

Robots named Adam and Eve? Yay. And people wonder why religious folks think scientists are trying to displace God.

Re:You should see its Mitochondrial Eve test (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441411)

> Robots named Adam and Eve?

I thought they were called Baltar and Caprica 6.

and even yet? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440961)

linux users are still faggots.

Robot Bio-Research (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440969)

Next thing you know, the robot will abduct a pretty female lab assistant to experiment on. [imdb.com]

Re:Robot Bio-Research (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441553)

Say what you want, that movie was excellent :)

Bender would say... (2, Funny)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441021)

Well, we're boned.

Re:Bender would say... (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441117)

No, he'd say "Hey, sexy mama! Wanna kill all humans?"

Second Impact (1)

eguichardo (1523189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441085)

Sure, next thing we know someone triggers a second impact a la Neon Genesis Evangelion and the half world gets flooded.

The three computers are obviously Melchior, Balthasar and Casper. And Eve will eventually be turned into a gigantic cyborg that a depressed 15 year old will drive Voltron style....

Summer penguins anyone?

The robot / AI did not discover anything (1, Flamebait)

cenc (1310167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441119)

There is some fairly important elements missing from this to be able to claim the robot made a scientific discovery.

Among many others, that it could have done otherwise. As if, it could have cracked a beer and sat in front of the TV, rather than done "scientific research". Essentially it does not mean anything to the robot / AI. Google "discovers" all kinds of crap every ms, but it is not front page on slashdot because of it and it does not MEAN anything to Google (the computers, not the people).

All they did was automate some lab test. I will say bravo in the potential usefulness of it, but it is not any grand breakthrough in AI research.

Are we ..? (2, Insightful)

louzer (1006689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441133)

I get a feeling we are already generating & testing hypothesises for someone/something bigger than us like in Asimov's The Last Answer.

The first step to a singularity? (3, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441157)

Isn't the first requirement for a singularity be that it's able to improve itself, thus leading to an accelerating growth that ends in the subjugation of humanity? If so, wouldn't it be prudent to withhold knowledge of the scientific method as long as possible?

Re:The first step to a singularity? (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441407)

Isn't the first requirement for a singularity be that it's able to improve itself, thus leading to an accelerating growth that ends in the subjugation of humanity?

We've had that for years with simple statistics keeping, neural networks, evolutionary algorithms and other ways of limited learning. You can have a learning chess computer that'll run circles around me yet it's completely harmless because it's not self-aware - it does not understand what it means to be turned off.

I'd be much more fascinated by a robot that given access to its own schematics etc. was to implement its own survivability routine like avoiding excess heat, cold, pressure, electrical jolts, water damage, corrosion, metal fatigue and so on and found pressing the "off" button as one of the identified threats to its survival. Not self-awareness in a human sense but enough logic to recognize the puppeteer.

Re:The first step to a singularity? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441647)

Sure, make it angry.

Robot or automated lab? (3, Informative)

f2x (1168695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441189)

This probably isn't the most helpful commentary, but it's a slight rant on semantics.

I used to work with Motoman K6's a few years back. Using these robots, we performed plasma cutting, arc welding, material handling, etc... Just looking at the K6, you knew it was a robot. Watching a robot work in a cell after you've trained it to do it's job is a very rewarding experience. Of course we also had other machines that were also very complex in their tasks, but we didn't consider them robots. CNC mills and lathes, pipe benders, other machines that ran autonomously that also had to be programmed and synchronized with the flow of production. Sometimes the line resembled a kind of demented Rube Goldberg contraption, but we were somewhat strict to define only the articulated manipulators themselves as robots.

So when I saw this pile of servos in a glass cleanroom set to the over-dramatic theme of "Bonanza Reloaded", I thought, "Yeah, that's nice, but... It just doesn't strike me as a 'robot' so much as it does an automated bio lab."

And yes, I realize there were clearly robots within the cell, but calling the unit as a whole a "robot" just irks me a little.

Of course in the spirit of all the other bad jokes I've seen posted, do you think this "robot" will use it's genetic findings with the yeast cells to perfect the most delicious and moist cake recipe ever?

Re:Robot or automated lab? (1)

pdxp (1213906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441401)

Just wait till that pipe bender tells you to bite his shiny metal ass. Then you'll call it a robot!

Re:Robot or automated lab? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441479)

No. The cake is a lie.

Automated Mathematician (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441319)

This reminds me of the Automated Mathematician (AM) program I read about in an AI course (or was it an old Byte magazine?). This program was programmed with a bunch of axioms, and basic strategies. It looked for "interesting things", like what happens when you apply identical arguments to a two argument function. As I recall, it discovered for itself the concept of prime numbers. It applied what it learned and came up with the theorem that all angles can be expressed as the sum of two prime angles (or something like that).

This seems to be doing the same thing: mixing and matching patterns, looking for interesting coincidences, and then testing for them. The only difference is that this is doing it with real world biological samples, and not abstract mathematical constructs.

Press release crap..How? (1)

meburke (736645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441323)

Yeah, cute. I'd be more impressed if there was a link to the code that showed how it worked. The Scientific American article was particularly disappointing. I remember when SA gave you enough information to learn something.

Adam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441377)

I thought Coleco wasn't around anymore. Guess I was wrong.

The end of science (4, Insightful)

eskayp (597995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441433)

This is terrible.
No experimenter bias to worry about.
Programmable for effective randomization.
Truly double blind capable.
Can counteract the Placebo effect.
No ego to bruise.
It's the end of science as we know it.

Re:The end of science (1)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441561)

Read this post in a synthetic voice and you have a follow up song to Radiohead's "Fitter Happier"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EoukRWQ-ec [youtube.com]

Lysine? (4, Funny)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441473)

So, our future AI overlords begin their research with the Lysine Contingency? Should we be worried?

so after all this grad school... (2, Funny)

onionlee (836083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441487)

damn! i got this phd for nothing now! D:

Re:so after all this grad school... (1)

nixish (1390127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441525)

someone needs to proof read adam and eve's thesis...

Throwing darts (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441523)

So the robot accomplished 1 experiment by how?

allowing Adam to investigate a thousand experiments a day and still keep track of all the results better than humans can.

Throwing darts... and eventually hitting something.

Woop woop!

Software AI == Cold fusion (3, Interesting)

Henkc (991475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441565)

Academics have been poking away on software AI for decades (also ANN [wikipedia.org] ) - I can't help feeling that this is a dead-end in the same way that cold fusion is, even though it's intellectually (hacking) fascinating.

What's far more fascinating and promising is the development of hardware neural nets [physorg.com] . To put it into perspective:

Since the neurons are so small, the system runs 100,000 times faster than the biological equivalent and 10 million times faster than a software simulation. "We can simulate a day in one second," Meier notes.

10 million times faster than software? That's like jumping from an abacus to a Pentium.

I just hope these folks continue to receive the funding they need.

question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441567)

who is everyone going to blame for this sort of thing now that bush isn't president?
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