Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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2-Apr-2009

Contact: Scipak
scipak@aaas.org
202-326-6440
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Robots working in the laboratory



The robot scientist "Adam" in action at Aberystwyth University
[Image courtesy of Jen Rowland]

Could robots replace scientists in the laboratory one day? Some researchers seem to think so at least to some degree. After building a robot that designed and performed scientific experiments in a laboratory, Ross King and colleagues seem convinced that robots will work together with human scientists someday in the lab. But, they do not believe human scientists will be replaced entirely.

Their robot, named ADAM, formed its own hypothesis about the genetics of a particular yeast strain and performed experiments to test that hypothesis with little to no human help. Afterwards, ADAM even considered the test results and formed another follow-up experiment.



The robot scientist "Adam" at Aberystwyth University
[Image courtesy of Jen Rowland]

The robot scientist, ADAM, was designed to fill in the blanks of unknown enzymes in the yeast, based on information about the yeast's metabolism and genes that were programmed into its hardware. The researchers double-checked ADAM's results and confirmed they were correct.

Although it may seem futuristic, this advance in "artificial intelligence" could mean that we will see many more robots in laboratories in the near-future. Though, scientists should not worry about their jobs if anything, the robots will make it more interesting!

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This research appears in the 03 April issue of Science.