Artificial intelligence (AI) to restore Picasso’s paintings, self-replicating robots to remove microplastics from water, and smartphones made of elements from the moon. We expect more technological benefits than we can think of in the future.
1. Picasso’s painting completed by AI
A painting by Pablo Picasso was completed after 118 years by AI technology. How does this happen?
Oxia Palus, a British art restoration company, is using artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing technology to resurrect unpublished masterpieces by artists. In 2010, a nude portrait of a woman was found beneath Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Blind Man’s Meal’ by using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) imaging. ‘The Blind Man’s Meal’ is produced in 1903 and is a painting from the Blue Period (1902-1904) where Picasso’s paintings were the most widely recognized and loved by the public.
It may be a little unfamiliar for us to see a painting inside another painting, but it was common for the artists in the past because poor painters had to use the recycled canvases. Picasso could not buy another canvas again, so he produced many paintings by adding paintings to one canvas.
Oxia Palus taught AI the painting style of Picasso in the Blue Period, and AI painted with oil paints over the nude sketches as it has learned. The finished painting was transferred to the canvas through a 3D printer, and it was named as ‘The Lonesome Crouching Nude’.
There are also opinions that ‘it is hidden by Picasso on purpose’ and ‘this is a work to quickly draw the next work’. But if AI did not exist, we would never have seen the work, right?
2. Can robots replicate themselves like amoeba?
All living creatures can produce copies of themselves by sprouting or giving birth. Now, robots are also able to do it. The world’s first biological robot, ‘Xenobot’, has been introduced.
Xenobots were created by scientists from the University of Vermont, Tufts University, and Wyss Institute at Harvard University. The scientists scraped stem cells from frog embryos and cultured them, then completed the Xenobot according to the design derived by AI. A recently published paper concludes that Xenobot 3.0 can even replicate itself.
Xenobot’s self-replication is achieved through a method called kinematic replication. The parent generation of Xenobots uses their V-shaped mouth to collect tiny frog stem cells from a Petri dish and clumps them into larger cell masses. These masses eventually become new baby Xenobots.
Sam Kriegman, the author of the Xenobot paper, said, “Currently, we are using frog cells that have not been genetically modified, and when these cells meet, they naturally form spheres. We will address how to alter the binding properties of these cells to create offspring with complementary forms.”
One day, these biological robots will be used to remove microplastics from water or to develop new drugs that can replace human cells. Sooner or later.
3. Elevator connecting Earth and the Moon
Is there any way to go to space safely, inexpensively? Scientists say to build an ‘elevator’.
The people who step up to build a Moon elevator connecting Earth and the moon were Dr. Zephyr Penoyre from Cambridge University, the UK, and Dr. Emily Sandford, from Columbia University, the U.S. They said it is possible with the current level of science and technology, and it is much more economical than a rocket.
In fact, it is derived from the concept of a ‘space elevator’. In 1895, the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky came up with the idea of transporting goods by connecting cables from Earth to a specific point in space. This cable will not fall because it balances the centrifugal force generated when the satellite orbits. However, it must be strong, must not be corroded by radiation, and it must have properties that can withstand collisions with planets. Even if they find a material that fits all of these, there are issues such as initial cost and installation.
Nevertheless, the reason they want to install the Moon elevator is to bring the scarce resources of space in cheaper ways. Helium-3 could be used in nuclear fusion power plants, and rare elements like neodymium could be used in smartphones and other electronics.
To enjoy the convenience of daily life with resources from space may not be a story too far away.