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                                                             on Gopher (inofficial)
   URI Visit Hacker News on the Web
   URI   Xenobots: replicating living robots made from frog cells
   DIR   text version
        Tomte wrote 2 days ago:
        Ars is a bit reserved: [1] (Interesting research, but no, we don’t
        have living, reproducing robots)
   URI  [1]: https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/11/mobile-clusters-of-cel...
        thread_id wrote 2 days ago:
        "“This is profound,” says Levin. “These cells have the genome of
        a frog, but, freed from becoming tadpoles, they use their collective
        intelligence, a plasticity, to do something astounding.” In earlier
        experiments, the scientists were amazed that Xenobots could be designed
        to achieve simple tasks. Now they are stunned that these biological
        objects—a computer-designed collection of cells — will
        spontaneously replicate. “We have the full, unaltered frog genome,”
        says Levin, “but it gave no hint that these cells can work together
        on this new task,” of gathering and then compressing separated cells
        into working self-copies."
        What could possibly go wrong here?
          imtringued wrote 2 days ago:
          Just design an artificial predator.
          Gravityloss wrote 2 days ago:
          Reminds me of people having pet axolotls and then finding out that
          they glow in the dark because their ancestor was used in some
          research way back and were inserted with that gene.
        polskibus wrote 2 days ago:
        What useful function can they perform apart from reproducing? Can they
        move towards designated target? Can they carry microscopic load?
          tempodox wrote 2 days ago:
          I'd already be happy with frogobots washing my dishes for me.  But I
          could never be sure they don't start eating my kitchen instead. 
          Anyway, I'd call that species “rana experimentalis frivole”
          instead of the PR gimmick “xenobot”.
          DiogoSnows wrote 2 days ago:
          I guess if the worst case scenario does not happen ( [1] ) there will
          be some health applications with targeting certain types of
          Very interesting technology! I’d be curious to see the commercial
          applications down the line too, not so curious about the potential
          hyper targeted invisible weaponry possibilities though
   URI    [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_goo
            vimacs2 wrote 18 hours 9 min ago:
            As much as I long for the day I get to see the world and myself be
            assimilated into grey gooey unity, the whole gray goo scenario is
            terribly implausible for the same reason why it has never happened
            despite having self replicating machines on earth for at least 3
            billion years: it turns out that performing any kind of abrasion at
            that scale requires a shit tonne of energy, which entails an even
            larger shit tonne of heat.
            Any grey goo candidates will rapidly vaporise themselves into
            cinders, even assuming they somehow manage to acquire the
            bordering-on-nuclear levels of energy density.
            In reality, a crack team of specialised machines will always beat a
            sea of generics anyway so any swarm of artificial self replicators
            will inevitably balloon into a fully blown parallel ecology long
            before it acquired the bulk for Armagooden.
            ricksunny wrote 2 days ago:
            This from the PI (below); I'm afraid I'm starting to "lose the
            plot" on how researchers justify the value of controversial work to
            ethics committees & grant disbursers.
            'Bongard points to the COVID epidemic and the hunt for a vaccine.
            “The speed at which we can produce solutions matters deeply. If
            we can develop technologies, learning from Xenobots, where we can
            quickly tell the AI,: ‘We need a biological tool that does X and
            Y and suppresses Z,’ —that could be very beneficial. Today,
            that takes an exceedingly long time.” The team aims to accelerate
            how quickly people can go from identifying a problem to generating
            solutions—"like deploying living machines to pull microplastics
            out of waterways or build new medicines,” Bongard says.
            “We need to create technological solutions that grow at the same
            rate as the challenges we face,” Bongard says. '
   URI      [1]: https://wyss.harvard.edu/news/team-builds-first-living-rob...
              krageon wrote 2 days ago:
              > grow at the same rate as the challenges we face
              Given that the challenges grow exponentially as we mess more and
              more things up, I guess the objective really is grey goo.
                vimacs2 wrote 18 hours 1 min ago:
                These don't reproduce in that way though. They require existing
                skin cells that they then corrall into balls akin to
                themselves. Even if grey goo was a serious existential risk (it
                isn't because the classic doomsday scenario ignores energy
                density and heat dissipation as factors), this is not really
                talking about the same mechanism.
          giuliomagnifico wrote 2 days ago:
          One step at time, I think they will study new functions for these,
          probably something related to the biomedical ambit.
        jkingsman wrote 2 days ago:
        See also: [1]
   URI  [1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29386102
   URI  [2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29385548
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