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Surprising Science

Standardize Science to Help Robot Researchers?

A robot scientist has made a new biological discovery and many more might be possible if we simplified the language of science, the human scientist who led the development says.

What’s the Big Idea?

Adam, the van-sized robot, is in the spotlight again. After an update to its software, the robot scientist has recycled its previous research to make a new biological discovery. Adam is the vanguard of an era of computers not just being research tools, but researchers. Adam and Eve, its new companion, are apparently two of only a few machines capable of using artificial intelligence to do research. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Computer scientist and biologist Ross King, who led Adam’s development and designed Eve, says the key to Adam’s new discovery was the translation of scientific data into computer language. To make all research useful, the language of science needs to be simplified and formalized, he says. Science could therefore become a more-efficient, machine-readable enterprise by standardizing the meanings, symbols, results and data organization used in studies. The debate over how far we should eliminate the diversity of language used in science already is lively and will continue as artificial intelligence improves.


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