The cyberscientist

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 18-21
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6346.18

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A California biotech called Zymergen is one of several efforts to augment—or even replace—the role of humans in the scientific process. Zymergen tunes up industrial microbes that produce ingredients for biofuels, plastics, or drugs. Seeking to boost production, companies send their workhorse strains to Zymergen. The robots then explore and tinker with each microbe's genome in a bid to engineer a version that makes its product compound more efficiently. AI controls the process: interpreting data, generating hypotheses, and planning experiments. The ultimate goal, says one official, is "to get rid of human intuition."