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From the bottom of the ocean to the vast sky, nature has filled the Earth with incredibly diverse life forms, with about 8 million species that over millions of years of evolution have managed to adapt to the environment in many ways. different. Yet just 100 years after Karrel Capek coined the phrase “robot,” the biological capabilities of many species still outstrip human technology. However, we have developed methods to produce robots with human-like intelligence, the ability to move and function smoothly in difficult conditions, as well as the ability to reproduce – spontaneously. regenerative.
Can robots reproduce on their own?
Can robots reproduce on their own? This is an important aspect of “life,” which is common among many species. A team of researchers from the UK and the Netherlands recently announced fully autonomous technology capable of allowing robots to reproduce on their own, evolving their genetic code over time to adapt to their environment. There are controversial opinions calling this “artificial evolution”. The baby robots are created by combining the digital DNA from the two parent robots on a computer.
The new genetic design will be sent to a 3D printer to create the robot’s body, then a robotic arm will be attached to a brain with software copied from the parent robot, along with new parts such as new sensor, wheel or coupling is determined by the algorithm “evolution”. A copy of every spawned robot is also created in the computer simulation.
This technology enables a new form of “evolution”: offspring can be produced from the fusion of the traits of a “virtual” mother and a “real” father, combining the advantages of simulated evolution is fast, but may not be as close to reality when compared to robots in the real environment. The new generation of robots inherits the best from both forms of evolution: simulation and the real world.
While this technology can work without human intervention, it also allows humans to participate in this “reproduction” process: just as humans have selectively bred crops and food. and cattle since the dawn of time – we can also influence the selection of robots. It is possible to imagine a not-too-distant future when there are robot farms to create a large number of robots with traits suitable for certain needs. They can be selectively breeding favorably because of battery life or emissions — just as humans breed drought-resistant plants or produce better-tasting ingredients.
These robot farms may face the same scrutiny and ethical issues as the breeding of genetically modified crops, through measures such as the administrative STOP button that allows stopping. complete facility operations or limit the supply of raw materials. In addition, an important point to consider is the possibility that evolution has produced robots that behave dangerously and require precautions.
The baby robots are created by combining the digital DNA from the two parent robots on a computer.
The idea of digital evolution – reimagining biological evolution with software to create ever-increasing solutions is not a new idea. It was in the 1960s when German engineers programmed computers to develop their own mechanical designs. Since then, computer “evolutionary algorithms” have been used to design everything from furniture to turbine blades. Humans only need to enter the parameters that need to be optimized (for example, the power generated by the turbine blades) and the software will respond. In 2006, NASA sent a satellite into space with an antenna designed by artificial intelligence.
We are very close to a major breakout. While scientists are confident that digital evolution can become a powerful optimization tool, the creativity of computers in creating unique or novel designs that humans cannot unthinkable has become an interesting topic. The creation of nature in biological evolution is very clear. In the Cuban rainforest, through evolution, grape varieties grow leaves shaped like satellite dishes that enhance the sound waves generated by bats to guide them to grape flowers and increase pollination. In the cold Southern Ocean, fishes produce their own antifreeze proteins to survive.
Digital evolution also has countless creative examples. With the task of figuring out how a 6-legged robot can walk normally even when injured, the computer has found countless ways to move with just a few legs, even without legs by crawling. on the back!
Today’s digital evolution is applied in many fields that seem to be only for humans such as art creation (even winning the University of Wyoming art competition, the judges did not know it was a painting work. of an algorithm). This concept of digital evolution sounds like artificial intelligence to newcomers, this is actually a specific research branch of artificial intelligence.
The idea of simulating nature in the design of self-evolving robots is very attractive, especially in scenarios where humans do not have much understanding of the environment where the robot needs to operate – for example, mining under the sea, processing waste in nuclear reactors or use microscopic robots to treat in the human body. Unlike evolution in nature, which has “survival and reproduction” goals, artificial evolution can have more specific goals. Once this evolutionary process is put into operation with the aforementioned technology, a computer system can control 3D printers to create increasingly improved versions of robots to suit the operating environment. Then there may appear robot combinations capable of self-sustaining, reproducing, and evolving without the need for human hands.
The creativity coming from artificial intelligence will give birth to new designs that are not restricted by the barriers of human understanding of engineering, mechanics and science.
That doesn’t mean people will become superfluous. The possibility of digital evolution can create opportunities for human-machine collaboration, with humans providing the requirements and technology providing the answers. For example, one could ask to create an energy-saving robot made from green materials with the task of handling heavy waste in a reactor, and digital evolution would find the solution on its own. Improvements in manufacturing technology that allow for the automation of mass prototype production, utilizing materials as diverse as plastic, play an important role in the potential to simulate evolution in nature without sacrificing to millions of years.
While this may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, it’s very realistic. Robots clearly have an important role to play in our future, from healthcare to other dangerous jobs. We are depleting Earth’s resources at a very fast rate and causing many risks of environmental pollution. Perhaps the creativity that comes from artificial intelligence will give birth to new designs that are not restricted by the barriers of human understanding of engineering, mechanics and science.
From another perspective, until we find traces of extraterrestrial life, biologists have only one “system” to study evolution. Just as the Large Hadron Collider gave us tools to study quantum physics, it is possible that a reproductive system for robots will be instrumental in helping us better understand life.
The summary of the article represents the opinion of the author Emma Hart. The article was published in The Guardian.
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