Computer-designed organisms - biobots, such as xenobots - are at the intersection of synthetic developmental biology and machine learning. This technology, which enables the evolution of real, living forms to take place in a virtual world, is part of an emerging new research field with applications in biomedicine and engineering, and raises profound philosophical questions.
Michael Levin and colleagues discuss how computer-designed organisms ? biobots and xenobots ? are driving a new research field with applications in biomedicine and engineering, and associated ethical and philosophical questions.