In many areas of science, data are being generated faster than they can
be effectively analysed. So the question of whether the scientific process
can be automated has become of more than theoretical interest. King et
al. present a proof-of-principle experiment that shows that a robot
scientist is a realistic concept, at least in functional genomics. The
robot was built using lessons learned in studies on artificial intelligence.
It can automatically originate factual hypotheses to explain data, devise
experiments to test the hypotheses and instruct a lab robot to perform
the experiment. It then assesses the results and runs more experiments
if required. The robot's first work was to determine gene function using
yeast deletion mutants and growth experiments.
Functional genomic hypothesis generation and
experimentation by a robot scientist ROSS D. KING, KENNETH E. WHELAN, FFION M. JONES, PHILIP
G. K. REISER, CHRISTOPHER H. BRYANT, STEPHEN H. MUGGLETON, DOUGLAS B.
KELL & STEPHEN G. OLIVER Nature427, 247252 (2004); doi:10.1038/nature02236
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