Biocomputer Powered by Brain Cells Possible, Say Researchers

Biocomputer Powered by Brain Cells Possible, Say Researchers

( – Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of science that takes computer technology and gives it access to large amounts of data to perform tasks and problem-solve. ChatGPT has been getting a lot of attention lately for its ability to write articles, create workout plans, and converse with humans. AI technology, while impressive, still has its limitations. One of those is its inability to discern one fact from another. In fact,it’s only as intelligent as the data input created by humans. However, recent research coming out of Johns Hopkins University might change all that.

The Discovery

A team of scientists at the university has been working to develop what they call “organoid intelligence” (OI), which they feel will eventually make AI obsolete. OI would involve the creation of biocomputers that would get their power from the brain organoids grown to resemble the human brain. Brain organoids are cell cultures grown in a lab that have the ability to learn and remember.

Professor Thomas Hartung of Johns Hopkins University explained that typical computers are excellent at computing numbers but lack the ability to learn. He said, “brains are better at learning,” decision-making, and storing large amounts of information. To use current brain organoids, which are only about the size of a pen dot and carry about 50,000 cells, Hartung said scientists will need to scale them up to include 10 million cells to make them useful for OI. He said the group has already created a “brain-computer interface device” needed to advance toward their goal. Scientists are hoping to use that intelligence to make advances in medicine.

What This Means for the Future

Hartung said the dreams of OI are still far away. He said it would take decades to develop a system as intelligent as a mouse, let alone a human being. The professor said funding is essential for development. As reported by Science Daily, Johns Hopkins Assistant Professor Lena Smirnova said organoid intelligence could revolutionize drug testing and research for certain disorders. For instance, she said scientists could compare brain organoids to donated human brains with autism in order to unlock the understanding of the cognitive issue. The lab-grown organs would potentially eliminate the need to use animals or other humans for testing and research.

Other potential uses could include researching Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions to identify causes and develop medications and, perhaps, cures. Harding admits, however, that the scientific community must be aware of the ethics associated with OI. Because the brain organoids will potentially be able to learn, remember, and interact with others, the question becomes whether or not it will have a consciousness as well.

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