Creating new life in the lab: DONE. What’s next?
7 hr ago
Tiny technology at work:
Not bot, not beast: Scientists create first ever living, programmable organism (Jan 20, 2020)
This week, a research team of roboticists and scientists published their recipe for making a new lifeform called xenobots from stem cells. 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”.
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 biomachines” could vastly improve human, animal, and environmental health, they raise legal and ethical concerns.
After the selection of the most promising designs, the scientists attempted to replicate the virtual models with frog skin or heart cells, which were manually joined using microsurgery tools. The heart cells in these bespoke assemblies contract and relax, giving the organisms motion.
The creation of 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.
Xenobots may have great value.
Some speculate they could be used to clean our polluted oceans by collecting microplastics.
…Xenobots designed with carefully shaped ‘pouches’ might be able to carry drugs into human bodies…
Well, well. The clock strikes thirteen.
These articles never seem to mention MILITARY LABS.
Like the labs at DARPA, the technology branch of the Pentagon. Or, say, Chinese labs.