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Meet Adam - the robot yeast geneticist


Self-Directed Robot Scientist Makes Discovery
Discovery News (04/02/09) Bland, Eric

A robot developed by researchers at the United Kingdom's Aberystwyth University has discovered 12 new functions for genes entirely on its own. The robot, dubbed Adam, contains a biological library of more than 12,000 chilled petri dishes, with each dish containing a different yeast strain with various genes removed from each strain. Using different tools, Adam can grab a petri dish, remove a sample of yeast, grow the sample, clean it, and analyze the results of an experiment that the robot designed. "Our goal is to make science more efficient," says University of Wales professor of biology and computer science Ross King. "If we had computers designing and carrying out experiments we could get through many more experiments than we currently can." Although Adam is still a prototype, King's team hopes that the next robot, dubbed Eve, will be able to contribute to the research for new drugs to fight diseases. Adam and Eve both have the hardware to physically manipulate objects and the advanced artificial intelligence to enable them to make their own decisions on what experiments to run, and to act of those decisions without human assistance. These types of artificial intelligence systems are still slow, but they will improve as additional research is done, says Columbia University professor David Waltz. "We have vastly more data that we can gather and vastly more powerful machines that we can work on it with and we must create more storage to save them," he says.

hmm. High throughput screening. How many PhD students are doing just this project?

via ACM technews.