Will the computers of the future as well as now assembled in factories, or they are literally grown in laboratories like cell culture? This question is so much interested in the team of biologists and computer engineers Lyaskovo University (PA, USA), which even managed to get a grant in the amount of $ 500,000 from the National science Foundation. Scientists want to develop a computer composed of living cells and to program it for the execution of computational processes.
The details of the project are still very scarce. Grant recipients say they are going to use living cells (though about what exactly the cell type in question, scientists do not yet speak) for creating a live neural network. For these purposes, scientists will resort to optogenetics – the method of controlling cells through exposure to light, and train the cells to recognize the digital values needed to perform calculations.
“Recent advances in the field of optogenetics — guided optical stimulation and high-speed optical detection can simultaneously detect and stimulate thousands of live neurons,” — said in a published press release Lyaskovo University Shaochen Gao, Professor of electrical and computer engineering and supervisor of the project.
“Scientists know that related live biological neurons in the natural environment demonstrate the ability to perform calculations and store information. With the support of the National science Foundation, we will be able to create an experimental system that will respond to optical stimulation. Watching the response and activity of live neuronal networks, we will be able to develop algorithms by which these neurons can be something to teach”.
According to the researchers, their project will help “to better understand the possibility of a symbiosis of computer and organic brain.” Exactly how all this will work, at the moment one can not even imagine.
“We hope that neuroscientists will be able to use this technology as a platform to study the characteristics of the human brain,” — says Yevgeny Berdichevsky, Professor of bioengineering Lyaskovo University participating in this project.
When scientists at the University of Pennsylvania in may presented a lab-grown cells (organelles) of the human brain, in the scientific community erupted controversy about the ethics of such developments. According to some, these “mini-brains”, with its development, can acquire the consciousness. It is unclear whether in the new study, researchers from the University of Lyaskovo be taken into account this aspect.
In any case, the new project offers a radical new view of the future of computer technology, in which literally all the electronics you can grow from “seeds”, like flowers.
To discuss the project scientists in our Telegram chat.