For the first time ever a computer has managed to develop a new scientific theory using only its artificial intelligence, and with no help from human beings.
Computer scientists and biologists from Tufts University programmed the computer so that it was able to develop a theory independently when it was faced with a scientific problem. The problem they chose was one that has been puzzling biologists for 120 years. The genes of sliced-up flatworms are capable of regenerating in order to form new organisms — this is a long-documented phenomenon, but scientists have been mystified for years over exactly what happens to the cells to make this possible.
Physicist Rob Sheldon writes to say,
As far as I could tell from the article, it was an optimization problem. You had all these proteins that control other proteins, and you are asking the computer to find the network that puts them into a stable state. The computer discovered three new network proteins. I wouldn’t exactly call this artificial intelligence, or my computer would also be AI as I type. It’s simply doing what it is told.
Isn’t that a bit like asking for the shortest bus route to the city centre? Or else the one with the fewest transfers? Or the least walking? Computers are better than most people at that kind of thing because they can’t vary from their instructions.
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