By Ashwin Kaliyaperumal
What would happen if you dropped your computer from a roof? It would break, right? There’s no saving your computer from its untimely demise after that.
What if I told you that there are computers right now that, if you cut it cleanly in half, it could mold itself back together. This bizarre computer is less like the cold, metal ones that we all associate with the word, and more like a living being. These “computers” are called xenobots, named after the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis).
These fascinating creatures were made by Sam Kriegman, Douglas Blackiston, Michael Levin, and Josh Bongard. Smaller than the eye can see, these creatures are made with living heart and skin cells from a frog embryo. An algorithm runs various tests to see what designs are the best for the xenobots. These cells are then carefully assembled by the inventors into the design best suited for it. The xenobots live for about a week after running out of food. While this seems like something out of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, these creatures don’t have any brains or nervous systems, meaning they can’t feel pain or think for themselves. Yet!
This new technology, once refined with further testing, will alter our entire society. It could just be a tool that doctors use, or could be so widespread that we each have an army of xenobots inside our own body. This could help regulate our body, deliver drugs and medication to places that need it, and can overall could help us live longer. Xenobots could help end suffering everywhere, and plunge us in a new age of artificial life.