For the first time ever a computer has managed to develop a new scientific theory using only its artificial intelligence, and with no help from human beings.Actually the title to this article was a bit misleading. Programmers wrote code to have the computer run a series of models designed to reploccate the processes required for planaria. The computer could not do this on its own. But nonetheless, it was a very interesting experiment. Computers are at their best when they are utilized for their speed in running repetitive calculations.
Computer scientists and biologists from Tufts University programmed the computer so that it was able to develop a theory independently when it was faced with a scientific problem. The problem they chose was one that has been puzzling biologists for 120 years. The genes of sliced-up flatworms are capable of regenerating in order to form new organisms -- this is a long-documented phenomenon, but scientists have been mystified for years over exactly what happens to the cells to make this possible.
By presenting the computer with this problem, however, it was able to reverse engineer a solution that could explain the mechanism of the process, known as planaria. The details discovered by the computer have been published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, along with the artificial intelligence method used to develop the theory.
[...]What the computer discovered was that the process requires three known molecules and two proteins that were previously unknown. This discovery, says Levin, "represents the most comprehensive model of planarian regeneration found to date".Will machines get smarter than humans? Hard to say. They are not intuitive and are not capable of inspiration. They get to achieve results by hammering away at the same problem over and over until the desired result is reached. They are only as good as the program that drives them. Can a program duplicate these qualities? I doubt it, not for some time anyway.
"One of the most remarkable aspects of the project was that the model it found was not a hopelessly-tangled network that no human could actually understand, but a reasonably simple model that people can readily comprehend," he adds. All this suggests to me that artificial intelligence can help with every aspect of science, not only data mining but also inference of meaning of the data,"