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Adam is a robot scientist that uses scientific analysis to carry out and compare test results and has the ability to independently discover new information. Adam uses AI based software to develop hypotheses, carry out experiments and analyze the results. While Adam is a prototype and still needs some support and attention, this is likely the first time in the history of science that a machine has independently discovered new scientific information.

Robot Theorizes, Proves Own Scientific Discoveries

Scientists at the United Kingdom’s Cambridge and Aberystwyth universities have created a “robot scientist” that they believe is the first automaton to make its own scientific discoveries.
The robotic computer system, named Adam, automates the scientific process, carrying out each stage on its own. The robot has discovered simple but new scientific knowledge about the genomics of baker’s yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae, according to the scientists. Baker’s yeast can serve as a model for more complex life forms. The scientists said their manual experiments confirmed the robot’s hypotheses and its findings.

Meet Adam and Eve: AI Lab-Bots That Can Take On Reams of Data

Researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales and England’s University of Cambridge report in Science today that they designed Adam—which is 16.4 feet (five meters) in length, with a height and width of 9.8 feet (three meters)—to perform basic biology experiments with minimal human intervention. They describe how the bot operates by relating how he carried out one of his tasks, in this case to find out more about the genetic makeup of baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, an organism that scientists use to model more complex life systems.

Using artificial intelligence, Adam hypothesized that certain genes in baker’s yeast code for specific enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions. The robot devised experiments to test these beliefs, ran the experiments, and interpreted the results. Because biological organisms are so complex, the details of biological experiments must be recorded in great detail so those experiments can faithfully be reproduced, even if this record-keeping is tedious, says lead study author Ross King, an Aberystwyth computer science professor. “With a computer, all of the results and conclusions and structure are expressed in logic,” he says, “that can uniformly be understood by other researchers.”

Robo-Scientist ‘Adam’ Performs Landmark Solo Experiment

There may not be a white lab coat big enough for Adam, the newest and most expensive member of the scientific department at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK.

Adam, a US$1 million robot-computer amalgam about the size of a large pickup truck, carried out genetic experiments on yeast and reached groundbreaking conclusions without human help, according to a report in the journal Science. That is, the robo-scientist set a hypothesis, carried out experiments, studied the results, and modified its original hypothesis based on what it had found.

Adam’s flesh-and-blood counterparts have confirmed that the robot did indeed discover something new about yeast genetics.

A team of British researchers take a robotic approach in rethinking the hypothetico-deductive method.

Adam’s daily routine is fairly unremarkable. Like thousands of postdocs in labs across the world, he formulates hypotheses, designs experiments, runs tests, and — every once in a while — makes a discovery in his field. Only, Adam isn’t a postdoctoral researcher. He’s a robot.

More precisely, Adam is an automated scientist programmed by a team of researchers at Aberystwyth University and the University of Cambridge to carry out each step of the scientific process — from generating hypotheses to making conclusions — without any direct help from humans.

He spends his days and nights working in a laboratory, studying the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast is a model organism for living systems, and understanding the ways in which it functions provides insight into how human cells work. The robot investigates what are called orphan enzymes, which play a role in the life processes of the yeast and are encoded by genes not yet known to scientists. Adam seeks to identify these encoding genes.

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