Scientists have created an ideal colleague – a robot that performs hundreds of repetitive experiments.
The robot, called Adam, is the first machine to have independently “discovered new scientific knowledge”.
It has already identified the role of several genes in yeast cells, and is able to plan further experiments to test its own hypotheses.
The UK-based team that built Adam at Aberystwyth University describes the breakthrough in the journal Science.
Ross King from the department of computer science at Aberystwyth University, and who led the team, told BBC News that he envisaged a future when human scientists’ time would be “freed up to do more advanced experiments”.
Robotic colleagues, he said, could carry out the more mundane and time-consuming tasks.
“Adam is a prototype but, in 10-20 years, I think machines like this could be commonly used in laboratories,” said Professor King.
It is by playing, pouring liquids into different sized cups, and so on, that we build huge databases as children about how the world works.