This is a pretty neat story about a robot that formed a hypothesis and then tested it experimentally.

A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators.

Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of bakers’ yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without intervention from its makers at Aberystwyth University.

The result was a series of “simple but useful” discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes. The research is published in the journal Science. ...

Adam is the result of a five-year collaboration between computer scientists and biologists at Aberystwyth and Cambridge universities.

The researchers endowed Adam with a huge database of yeast biology, automated hardware to carry out experiments, supplies of yeast cells and lab chemicals, and powerful artificial intelligence software.

I expect that Adam will be the next in a long line of "no longer artificial intelligence" successes: when AI works the algorithm becomes "just the way it's done" and not AI anymore.

Adam probably works by generating random potential experiments, culling out the ones that will be obvious failures using a heuristic, and then carrying out the experiments that make the cut. Many will still be failures, but Adam probably identifies some as successful enough to draw to the attention of human researchers.

The artificial intelligence may not be that complex, but connecting it to a robot that can perform biology experiments kicks it up to a new level. Very cool.

(HT: GeekPress.)

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