ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside January 2011

Rise of the Robo Scientists

Machines can devise a hypothesis, carry out experiments to test it, and assess results--without human intervention



Illustration by David Johnson

Is it possible to automate scientific discovery? I don’t mean automating experiments. I mean: Is it possible to build a machine—a robot scientist—that can discover new scientific knowledge? My colleagues and I have spent a decade trying to develop one.

We have two main motives. The first is to better understand science. As famed physicist Richard Feynman noted: “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” In this philosophy, trying to build a robot scientist forces us to make concrete engineering decisions involving the relation between abstract and physical objects and between observed and theoretical phenomena, as well as the ways hypotheses are created.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article



This function is currently unavailable

X