全世界首个活体机器人诞生 可编程可自愈有生命!-看世界

全世界首个活体机器人诞生 可编程可自愈有生命!

全世界首个活体机器人诞生,可编程可自愈有生命!北京时间1月14日凌晨,全球顶级期刊《美国科学院院报》(PNAS)发表了一项最新重磅研究:美国科学家利用从青蛙胚胎中提取的活细胞,创造出了第一个毫米级“活体可编程机器人”(以下称为“活体机器人”,英文为 Xenobots)。

The world's first living robot was born, programmable self-healing and living! In the early morning of January 14, Beijing time, the world's top journal PNAs published a new heavyweight study: American scientists created the first millimeter level "living programmable robot" (hereinafter referred to as "living robot") by using living cells extracted from frog embryos Xenobots).

简单来说,“活体机器人”是一种由 100% 青蛙细胞所创造出的新生命个体——非金属非机械结构、非单细胞生物体,是一种新的活体可编程生物。

In short, "living robot" is a kind of new living individual created by 100% frog cells - Non-metallic non mechanical structure, non single cell organism, which is a new living programmable organism.

该“机器人”拥有两个“短腿”,并能依靠自主力量朝目标移动。最为关键的一点,由于它们是“活体机器人”,即便被损坏或撕裂,也能自行复制和修复。

The robot has two short legs and can move towards the target by its own power. Most importantly, because they are "living robots", they can reproduce and repair themselves even if they are damaged or torn.

本项研究由佛蒙特大学(UVM)计算机科学系教授约书亚·邦加(Joshua Bongard)的团队主导,在 UVM 的超级计算机上设计,然后再由美国塔夫茨大学的生物学家组装和测试,是一次跨“计算机+生物”领域的完美合作。

This research is led by the team of Joshua Bongard, a professor of computer science at the University of Vermont. It is designed on the supercomputer of UVM, and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. It is a perfect cooperation in the field of "computer + biology".

约书亚·邦加(Joshua Bongard)

Joshua Bongard

本篇论文的共同作者,塔夫茨大学再生与发育生物学中心的负责人迈克尔·莱文(Michael Levin)认为,从基因组织上来看,Xenobots 活体机器人的本质是青蛙——它 100% 由青蛙的 DNA 组成,但是,它们却不是青蛙,而是机器人。

Michael Levin, co-author of this paper and head of the center for regeneration and developmental biology at Tufts University, believes that from the perspective of gene organization, the essence of xenobots is a frog - it is 100% composed of frog DNA, but they are not frogs, but robots.

迈克尔·莱文(Michael Levin)

Michael Levin

迈克尔·莱文表示,“构建活体机器人,是人类破解‘形态学代码’的一小步。异种机器人为我们提供更深入了解生物整体组织方式的样本,帮助我们了解它们(青蛙细胞)是如何根据其(形态学代码领域)历史和环境来计算和存储信息的。”

Michael Levin said, "building a living robot is a small step for humans to break the" morphological code ". Heterogeneous robots provide us with more in-depth understanding of the overall organization of biological samples to help us understand how they (frog cells) calculate and store information according to their (morphological code field) history and environment. "

美国科技网站 Wired 则形容该研究称:“(它们是)一种令人毛骨悚然的新型可编程生物”。

Wired, the US technology website, described the study as "a creepy new type of programmable creature.".

如果说,过去五十年,机器人行业是从无到有的话,今天 PNAS 发表的这项研究则意味着:活体机器人不再是设想与科幻,它们将在未来成为现实。而且,在人类的指导下,未来活体机器人或许能在某种意义上,像真实的生物一样适应环境。

If the robot industry has grown from scratch in the past 50 years, the research published by PNAs today means that living robots are no longer imagination and science fiction, but will become reality in the future. Moreover, under the guidance of human beings, living robots may be able to adapt to the environment in a certain sense like real creatures in the future.

活体机器人背后的故事:“计算机+生物”完美跨界合作

The story behind living robot: "computer + biology" perfect cross-border cooperation

如今你所看到的很多科学技术,都是在加工钢铁、混凝土、化学药品和塑料的基础上实现,而这些材料会随着时间的流逝而降解,也可能产生有害的生态和健康副作用。

Many of the science and technology you see today are based on the processing of steel, concrete, chemicals and plastics, which degrade over time and may have harmful ecological and health side effects.

合成材料的运用比生活材料更加广泛,因为前者更易于设计、制造和维护。死亡的细胞更易于重新设计以满足其他需求。比如说,书的原材料是木头,但你不能说一棵树就能制造成一本书。

Synthetic materials are more widely used than living materials because they are easier to design, manufacture and maintain. Dead cells are easier to redesign to meet other needs. For example, the raw material of a book is wood, but you can't say that a tree can make a book.

因此,将自我更新和生物相容性材料、也就是类似活细胞的材料,运用到科学技术中,将是有用的和有效的。在这其中,生命系统本身是理想材料的候选者。

Therefore, it is useful and effective to apply self-renewal and biocompatibility materials, i.e. materials similar to living cells, to science and technology. Among them, life system itself is the candidate of ideal material.

而这个“活体机器人“,就是生活材料应用的最佳实践者。研究人员从非洲爪蛙(Xenopus laevis)胚胎干细胞中分化,分成心脏细胞(收缩细胞)和表皮细胞(被动细胞)两部单个细胞,然后进行孵育。

And this "living robot" is the best practitioner of the application of living materials. The researchers differentiated from embryonic stem cells of Xenopus laevis, divided them into two parts: heart cells (contraction cells) and epidermal cells (passive cells), and then incubated them.

左边顶部绿色部分是被动细胞,而红、绿交替的部分便是主动细胞(图片来自:Inverse)

The green part at the top of the left is the passive cell, while the alternating red and green part is the active cell

为了让活体机器人可以按照科学家指定的方式移动,研究团队在 UVM VVAC 的 Deep Green 超级计算机集群上进行了数月的处理,并使用了一种进化算法,为新的生命形式创建了数千个候选设计。为了完成科学家分配的任务(例如在一个方向上移动),计算机一遍又一遍地将数百个模拟细胞重新组装成无数种形态。

In order to allow the living robot to move in the way designated by scientists, the research team conducted several months of processing on the deep green supercomputer cluster of UVM vvac, and used an evolutionary algorithm to create thousands of candidate designs for new life forms. To accomplish tasks assigned by scientists (such as moving in one direction), computers reassemble hundreds of simulated cells into countless forms over and over again.

左边就是进化算法所创建的候选设计,右边是模型与细胞的结合

On the left is the candidate design created by evolutionary algorithm, and on the right is the combination of model and cell

而后再将非洲爪蛙单个表皮细胞和心肌细胞进行结合,并利用 Deep Green 设计出来的最佳模型,使用微小的镊子和均匀的电极,将细胞切割并在显微镜下连接成计算机指定设计的近似值,不断尝试与实验,创造出全球首个 “活体机器人”。

Then, the single epidermal cells and cardiac myocytes of the African claw frog were combined, and the best model designed by deep green was used. With tiny tweezers and uniform electrodes, the cells were cut and connected under the microscope to the approximate value specified by the computer. The experiment and experiment were carried out continuously to create the world's first "living robot".

这是有史以来第一次“完全从头开始设计完全生物的机器”,100% 由青蛙细胞创造出的一种新生命体。

This is the first time in history to "design completely biological machines from scratch", a new life form created by 100% frog cells.

如果说,之前的机器人设计都是利用机械结构形成的话,这一新的研究,将细胞组装成自然界中从未见过的身体形态,进行协同工作。这将会是人类历史上一次惊人的研究发现。

If the previous robot design is based on mechanical structure, this new research will assemble cells into the body shape never seen in nature, and work together. This will be an amazing research discovery in human history.

除了算法以外,科研人员让分化出的心脏收缩细胞,在计算机的设计指导下,创造出有序的向前运动,使机器人得以继续前进。

In addition to algorithms, researchers let the differentiated cardiac contractile cells, under the guidance of computer design, create an orderly forward motion, so that the robot can continue to move forward.

在实验过程中,研究人员还发现了另外一个事实:这个“活体机器人”可以在水性介质中移动,并且可以转圈。

During the experiment, the researchers also found another fact: the "living robot" can move in the water-based medium, and can rotate.

后来的测试表明,这个不同于金属、塑料机器人的活体机器人是完全可生物降解的,也具有自我修复能力的。

Later tests show that the living robot, which is different from metal and plastic robots, is completely biodegradable and has the ability of self-healing.

本篇论文的作者也介绍说:“我们把机器人切成了两半,结果它不仅能把自己缝合起来,其后还能继续活动。”

"We cut the robot in half, so it can not only sew itself up, but also move on afterwards," the author said

有趣的是,如果你利用显微镜将斑点轻拍到其背面,将这个机器人翻转过来,它就像翻过的乌龟一样躺在那里,一动不动。

Interestingly, if you use a microscope to tap the spot on the back of it and turn the robot over, it's like a flipped turtle lying there, motionless.

这一切形态,与人的表达无异,堪称是机器人领域的“异星觉醒“。

All these forms, like human expression, can be called "alien awakening" in the field of robotics.

未知世界的伦理冲击

The ethical impact of the unknown world

虽然上文短短几百字将“活体机器人“这项技术解释出来,但事实上,这项研究需要很多技术难点需要克服,也有很大的未知风险。

Although the "living robot" technology is explained in a few hundred words above, in fact, this research needs many technical difficulties to be overcome, and also has great unknown risks.

许多人担心,快速的技术变革和复杂的生物操作,会带来不良的影响。在该论文发表之后,有国外的网友评论称,“请不要把它(活体机器人)植入到体内”,“很容易造成替代和暗杀”等等。

Many people worry that rapid technological changes and complex biological operations will bring about adverse effects. After the paper was published, foreign netizens commented, "please don't implant it (living robot)", "it is easy to cause substitution and assassination" and so on.

请输入图说

Please enter the picture

该篇论文共同作者山姆·克里格曼(Sam Kriegman)认为,类似的“活体机器人”未来变体将很有可能具备神经系统和认知能力。针对上文所提到的道德问题,他也认为,在发现这类机器人后,政策制定者也能针对性地定制最佳行动方案,“每个人都应该做各种不同的事情,(我们)只是在探索,而(其他人)需要考虑其行为的伦理后果和影响。”

Sam kriegman, co-author of the paper, believes that future variants of similar "living robots" are likely to have neural and cognitive capabilities. In response to the ethical issues mentioned above, he also believes that after discovering such robots, policy makers can also tailor the best action plan accordingly, "everyone should do different things, (we) are only exploring, while (others) need to consider the ethical consequences and impact of their behavior."

斯坦福大学法学教授,生物医学伦理学研究中心指导委员会主席汉克·格里利(Hank Greely)同意该说法,并表示,尽管当前的研究远没有创造出类似人类的东西,但他们仍应牢记这样的伦理学问题,也需要全社会来关注并且优化伦理方案。

Hank Greely, a law professor at Stanford University and chairman of the steering committee of the biomedical ethics research center, agreed, saying that although the current research is far from creating something similar to human beings, they should still keep such ethical issues in mind and need the whole society to pay attention to and optimize ethical programs.

其他研究者们认为,活体机器人的特性则展示了其未来无限的可能性。它们可以被用来清理海洋中的微塑料污染,定位和消化有毒物质,或者进入人体血管,精准输送药物、清除动脉壁上的斑块等,这些都是活体机器人的落地范围。

Other researchers believe that the characteristics of living robots show infinite possibilities in the future. They can be used to clean up micro plastic pollution in the ocean, locate and digest toxic substances, or enter human blood vessels, accurately deliver drugs, clear plaque on the arterial wall, etc., which are all the landing areas of living robots.

麻省理工学院(MIT)计算机科学和人工智能实验室(CSAIL)主任 Daniela Rus 也曾指出,技术带来的负面影响,其实跟 AI 技术的关系并不大,而是与人类的控制有关。

Daniela Rus, director of the computer science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT, also pointed out that the negative impact of technology is not related to AI technology, but to human control.

不管讨论如何,这并不妨碍我们对活体机器人的关注,以及对未来科幻希望现实落地的想法。

Regardless of the discussion, this does not prevent us from paying attention to the living robot and the idea that the future science fiction hopes to land in reality.

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