Researchers Are Working On Powering Computers With Human Brain Cells

By Toby T

The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has been a beauty to behold. However, while developments are still being made in this field, some are already looking beyond and toward the next generation – organoid intelligence. 

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Recently, a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University published a paper in Frontiers of Science where they outlined their plans for organoid intelligence – a field of computing that looks to develop biocomputers that work using human cells.

Essentially, an organoid is a small, self-organizing 3D tissue that is obtained from human stem cells. It imitates the architectural and structural build of an organ, and experts believe that the human body has as many organoids as there are organs and tissues in the human body. 

Research into organoids could provide the perfect opportunity for scientists to go out of the ordinary in their quest to study human diseases. While disease research has mostly been done on animals, this method has generally run into issues since there are specific biological processes that can’t be modeled using animals. With organoids, researchers could finally overcome this bottleneck, bolstering their research. 

Still, the team at Johns Hopkins also believes that organoids could help in building the future of computing. In a statement, Thomas Hartung, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Whiting School of Engineering, explained that he and his team began growing and assembling brain organoids with human skin samples that had been reprogrammed into embryonic stem cells. 

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In this research, each organoid had about 50,000 cells, despite their incredibly small size. As the researchers believe, a computer with an organoid could reduce supercomputers’ energy output, thus making them much more sustainable. 

Just as well, organoids could help improve computers’ decision-making ability while enhancing their storage and memory retention. It will take a while for organoid intelligence to compete with any form of computer, but Hartung and his team believe that there is a lot of potential.