It may sound like the plot of any number of Sci-Fi movies from Bladerunner to the Terminator, but scientists have created what, for all intents and purposes, is a “robotic lifeform.”
A research team has published its recipe for making a new lifeform from stem cells, called xenobots. The term “xeno” comes from the frog cells (Xenopus laevis) used to make them. One of the researchers described the creation as “neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal,” but a “new class of artifact — a living, programmable organism.”
According to the research team, the Xenobots are less than 1mm long and made of 500-1000 living cells. They have various simple shapes, including some with squat “legs.” They can propel themselves in linear or circular directions, join together to act collectively, and move small objects. Using their own cellular energy, they can live up to 10 days.
While these “reconfigurable bio-machines” could vastly improve human, animal, and environmental health, they raise legal and ethical concerns.
The creation of the xenobots is groundbreaking. Despite being described as “programmable living robots,” they are actually completely organic and made of living tissue. The term “robot” has been used because xenobots can be configured into different forms and shapes and “programmed” to target certain objects—which they then unwittingly seek. They can also repair themselves after being damaged.
Artificially intelligent, self-repairing, “bio-machines” that can “seek out and target objects.” What could possibly go wrong? Does anyone have Sarah Conner on speed dial?
Where do you think the creation of these “Xenobots” will lead? Could androids be next? Please reply using the comments below!