In a breakthrough for artificial intelligence research, a digital clone of the mind of a roundworm (C. Elegans) has been uploaded into a robotic body made from LEGO, as part of the Open Worm Project.
Once the software facsimile of the worm brain was integrated into the LEGO robot it, with no additional programming, exhibited behaviour consistent with the C. Elegans species, avoiding obstacles and attracted by food. The robot carries sensors that imitate the senses of a roundworm, bridged by software modelled on a worm’s nervous system.
Stephen Larson, the project’s co-ordinator, told US news network CNN, “We’ve been working on it for four years and while we have a lot more to achieve it’s been the most surprising project I’ve been involved in. It’s certainly exceeded my expectations.”
The research teams says that it will take some time for the robot to learn to avoid predators or search for a mate, but that the progress made so far bodes well for the future.
“We definitely have further to go, but I think what captures people’s imagination is how much information we have managed to put together,” said Larson.