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This Robot Has the Mind of a Worm

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The Open Worm worm robot.

A worm robot developed by the Open Worm research project, which seeks to develop artificial intelligence.

Credit: United Press International

A research project dubbed Open Worm seeks to develop artificial intelligence technology by focusing on worm intelligence, and is one of the first examples of a synthetic biological system.

The globally collaborative project saw a recent breakthrough when its software enabled a robot made of Lego bricks to act entirely on its own.

The software is the replication of the brain of a common roundworm, and it does not feature any pre-programmed actions. The robotic worm currently can only replicate part of the persona of Caenorhabditis elegans, such as by approaching objects curiously and backing away, or seeking nearby food. However, researchers working on the project say it may not be long before the worm robot is evading predators and finding mates.

"We know we have the correct number of neurons, we have them connected together in roughly the same way that the animal has, and they're organized in the same way in that there are some neurons that give out information and other neurons that receive information," says Open Worm project coordinator Stephen Larson. "We feel we've gone a long way down the road, but we still know that there's a lot that's been left out and there are a lot of assumptions--at the moment it represents one point in a line of iterative improvements."

From United Press International
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