A robot named Adam has learned to design, perform, interpret, and even revise original lab experiments.
Researchers at Cambridge University programmed Adam to record the chemical activity in 13 unmarked enzymes and try to figure out the underlying genetics: routine stuff for a modern genetics lab, but impossible for a typical if-then computer processor. But Adam’s flexible artificial intelligence allowed him to formulate hypotheses — “Might the encoding genes be structured along these lines?” — to design and execute experiments, to interpret the results, and to tweak and retest the hypotheses accordingly. Adam did pretty well, generating 20 hypotheses and solving the genomics of 12 of the 13 enzymes. And in doing so, he became the first machine to explore the creative side of the scientific process.
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