Scientists told how our body can become a key component in supercomputers and advanced technologies for exploring the future.
Futuristic “biocomputers” harnessing the power of human brain cells could soon become a reality, revolutionizing digital technology, a new study explains. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University say half-human, half-machine devices could surpass current technological limitations using brain organelles taken from a tiny sample of human skin.
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The team of scientists experimented with dot-sized brain tissue containing neurons and capable of various functions, such as learning and memory. Professor Thomas Hartung, who is leading the work, says the “biological hardware” could soon provide valuable research into how the human brain works and provide a way to reduce power consumption in supercomputers.
Thomas Hartung with brain organelles in his lab at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Фото: Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University
The research team also hopes that organoid intelligence could also revolutionize drug testing research for neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration. While computers can perform calculations on numbers and data much faster than humans, the brain is much better at making complex logical decisions, such as telling one animal from another.
“The brain is still unmatched in today’s computers,” says Hartung in a press release. “Frontier, Kentucky’s latest supercomputer, costs $600 million and covers an area of 2,072 meters. Just last June, it surpassed computing power for the first time.” one human brain, but used a million times more energy.”
Professor Hartung’s research describes his team’s plan for organoid intelligence.
“Computing and artificial intelligence have been the driving force behind the technological revolution, but they have hit a ceiling,” says Hartung. “Biocomputing is a huge effort to reduce computing power and increase its efficiency to overcome our current technological limitations.”
For nearly two decades, scientists have been using tiny organelles — lab-grown tissues that resemble fully grown organs — for experiments on human organs without resorting to human or animal testing. In 2012, Professor Hartung and his colleagues began growing and assembling brain cells into functional organelles using cells from human skin samples. The team then reprogrammed these cells into embryonic states similar to stem cells. Each organelle contains about 50,000 cells, being about the size of a fruit fly’s nervous system.
Prof. Hartung and his team are now envisioning building a supercomputer with these organelles, which they believe could begin to reduce the power requirements of increasingly unstable supercomputers. While it may be decades before organoid intelligence can even control a computer mouse by increasing the production of organoids and training them with artificial intelligence, Professor Hartung predicts a future in which biocomputers will provide superior speed, processing power, data efficiency and storage capabilities.
“This opens up opportunities to study how the human brain works,” explains Hartung, “Because you can start manipulating the system, doing things that, for reasons of ethics, cannot be done with the human brain.” To assess the ethical implications of working with organoid intelligence, the Johns Hopkins team included a diverse consortium of scientists, bioethicists and members of the public.
The Johns Hopkins team also suggests that organoid intelligence could revolutionize drug testing research for neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration.
“We want to compare brain organoids from typically developed donors with brain organoids from donors with autism,” says Lena Smirnova, associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University. “The tools we develop for biological computing are the same tools that will allow us to understand the changes in neural networks that are characteristic of autism without having to use animals or refer to patients so that we can understand the underlying mechanisms behind why patients have these cognitive problems and impairments.”
Focus has previously written about how brain chips can change your personality in amazing ways. Researchers believe that implanting brain implants could be much more ethically dangerous than we might think.
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