A group of researchers from the U.S. and U.K. have created a digital copy of a worm’s brain and uploaded it into a robot. This robot, created by the OpenWorm project, is able to move about and avoid objects without ever having been programmed to do so.
This is an important first step in the creation of artificial intelligence. The worm whose brain they recreated, Caenorhabditis elegans, is one of the simplest forms of life. It has just 302 neutrons and 959 cells. This is what allowed the researchers to digitally recreate the brain. Despite being so simple, C. elegans have 80 percent of their genes in common with humans and are often studied as a basic version of complex life.
While this is a landmark in the creation of artificial intelligence, it is just the beginning. Humans have 100 billion neurons and 37 trillion cells in their brain, and even a mouse brain has 22 million neurons. The first human-equivalent artificial intelligence is a long way off, but according to John Long, a roboticist and neuroscientist at Vassar College, N.Y., “The mere act of trying to put a working model together causes us to realize what we know and what we don’t know.”
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