AI Could Be Obsolete by ‘OI’ — Biocomputers Running on Human Brain Cells

It seems like artificial intelligence took over our lives recentlybut a group of scientists argue that something called “organoid intelligence,” or OI, powered by living human brain cells may one day surpass any artificial system, and it can also be more efficient.

Organoids are three-dimensional clusters of biological tissue that scientists have been growing and experimenting with for years. Researchers led by environmental health sciences professor Thomas Hartung at Johns Hopkins University are working with brain organoids that could lead to the development of a “biocomputer” powered by human brain cells. .

“We are at a moment in time, where the technologies to achieve actual biocomputing have matured,” Hartung told me by email. “The hope is that some of the unique functions of the human brain can be realized as OI, such as its ability to make rapid decisions based on incomplete and conflicting information (intuitive thinking).”

Hartung and colleagues unveiled a broad vision for the future of OI on Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Science.

The team includes scientists from Cortical Labs, which made headlines last year for making a dish full of living brain cells quickly. taught himself to play the original video game Pong.

The use of organoids grown from cells is useful for scientists because it does not require human or animal testing. Hartung has been creating functional brain organoids since 2012 using human skin cells that have been reprogrammed into an embryonic stem-cell like state. It can be used to form brain cells and, eventually, organoids with functioning neurons and other parts that can maintain basic functions such as memory and continuous learning.

“This opens up research into how the human brain works,” Hartung said in a statement. “Because you can start manipulating the system, doing things that you can’t do with the behavior of the human brain.”

A living computer

He and his colleagues envision assembling brain organoids into new forms of biological computing hardware that are more energy efficient than today’s supercomputers.

“The brain is still unmatched by modern computers,” Hartung said. “Frontier, Kentucky’s newest supercomputer, is a $600 million, 6,800-square-foot installation. Just last June, it exceeded for the first time the computational capacity of a human brain — but using and a million times stronger. .”

Hartung agrees that computers are faster at processing numbers and data but maintains that the brain remains superior when it comes to complex logical problems.

“Computers and the brain are not the same, although we have tried to make computers more brainy since the beginning of the computer age. The promise of OI is to add some new qualities.”

Concepts such as biological computers and organoid intelligence can lead to the value of a library of new ethical discussions. Conversations about organoids becoming sentient, conscious or self-aware and the ensuing implications have been going on for years now, even though the technology is thought to be immature at the moment.

“There is probably no technology without unintended consequences,” Hartung told me. “While it is difficult to exclude such risks, as long as people can control the input and output as well as the brain’s feedback on the consequences of its output, people have control. However, as with AI, the problem comes when we give. Autonomy of AI/OI. Machines, whether based on siliceous or cellular machinery, should not make decisions about human life.”

Research team members with a background in bioethics worked to explore the ethical implications of working with OI.

Organoid intelligence and biocomputers won’t pose a threat to AI or primitively grown human brains anytime soon. But Hartung believes that it is time to start increasing the production of brain organoids and train them with AI to overcome some of the shortcomings of our silicon systems.

“It will take decades before we reach the goal of something comparable to any kind of computer,” Hartung said. “But if we don’t start creating funding programs for this, it will be more difficult.”

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