Artificial Intelligence: Robot Scientist Adam
Article by George Norman
On 03 Apr 2009
AI or Artificial Intelligence, for those of you that do not already know this, is the science of making intelligent machines or intelligent computer programs – in other worlds, to get computers and software to think like a human does. Adam, a robot developed by scientists from Aberystwyth University in Wales and the UK's University of Cambridge, is living proof of just how advance AI really is – Adam is the first robot scientist that on his own, hypothesized, experimented and reformulated the hypothesis with no human intervention whatsoever.

Adam (again, a robot) managed to come up with a functional genomics hypothesis (again, on his own, with no human intervention) about the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The robot then put the hypothesis to the test by running experiments through laboratory automation, interpreted the results of the experiments, and revised the original hypothesis according to those results. Human researchers ran their own sets of tests and confirmed the accuracy of Adam’s findings, making it the first machine to have contributed to scientific knowledge.

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“We've now demonstrated that Adam can do some novel biology work. This is one of the first systems to get [artificial intelligence] to try and control laboratory automation. [Current robots] tend to do one thing or a sequence of things. The complexity of Adam is that it has cycles,” Computer Scientist and Biologist at UK’s Aberystwyth University, Ross King said in an interview for LiveScience.

King’s team, which is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, spent about $1 million on Adam – which is still a prototype. King acknowledges the fact that the money could have been used on lab technicians, but no human can keep up with Adam’s capability of running a thousand experiments per day while keeping track of all the results provided by the aforementioned experiments.

The team is currently working on another robot, named Eve. Unlike Adam, who is focused on biology research, Eve would perform chemical and pharmaceutical research and thus aid scientists in finding a cure for diseases like malaria and schistosomiasis.

Below, some pictures of Adam:

Tags: Adam, AI, Robot
About the author: George Norman
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