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Robo-Scientist

Robots have been replacing blue collars in several activities, electronic components assembly is mostly robotised today, as it is the case in the car manufacturing industry. Robots are being used in performing "tricky" surgery, but they are either guided by a surgeon or they have been programmed by a surgeon. Amazing progresses and Industry 4.0 (an area we are exploring at EIT ICT Labs) is going to make massive use of smart robots that will be able to work in a cooperative way.
Well, that should be it. Actually, robots can do more, can be as creative as humans, at least as good as scientists in discovering the world and inventing new things! 
This is what researchers at the University of Manchester are demonstrating with Eve. Eve follows Adam (it makes sense, doesn’t it?) a robot that the same team of scientists released in 2009, able to create new scientific knowledge.
Now Eve can mimic a scientist in the medical field to discover new drugs. And can do that in a much faster way that a scientist could ever do.
Eve can test 10,000 compounds per day, have them interacting in lab experiments and learning from the results of these experiments adapt the choices of the subsequent compounds to test. You can read the details by reading the paper published by the Royal Society. 
According to the researchers Eve is as good as a scientist in testing compounds but it is way faster, meaning that the cost is dramatically decreased. This will allow work on rare diseases that today are neglected for economical reasons.
What is amazing to me is the capability of a robot to mimic scientific reasoning, something that is clearly rigorous but also creative. That a robot can be as creative as me, and actually better since it is faster in learning is a bit upsetting, I confess.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.