Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The University of Vermont: A team of scientists has repurposed living cells -- scraped from frog embryos -- and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These millimeter-wide "xenobots" can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient) -- and heal themselves after being cut. "These are novel living machines," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism." The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at UVM--and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. "We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can't do," says co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts, "like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque."

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The organisms come pre-loaded with their own food source of lipid and protein deposits, allowing them to live for a little over a week -- but they can't reproduce or evolve. However, their lifespan can increase to several weeks in nutrient-rich environments.

My initial reaction to this was Wow! Humans have created a new lifeform that can help improve the quality of life for so many people affected by disease, physical challenges, etc.. However, the more I thought about it, the more concern I had because this is not a lifeform that has been brought into existence by evolution. And, as a result, there is no natural counter balance to its unrestrained growth and transmission. Although the researchers say that it can not reproduce or evolve, life somehow finds a way.

#1 | Posted by FedUpWithPols at 2020-01-14 05:38 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

But do living robots fart?

If they do... then they would make noises...

and if that's true, then they can be "grown" to play different notes.

and only then can they be arranged into a band...

to play Disco music...

#2 | Posted by Pegasus at 2020-01-14 01:44 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

Sometimes I feel like I'm just not up on my game.

#3 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2020-01-15 01:01 AM | Reply

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