Bio-computers; organoid intelligence: Basics Explained

Scientists across multiple disciplines describe their roadmap for realizing the vision, in the journal Frontiers in Science, to create revolutionary biocomputers where three-dimensional cultures, usually derived from stem cells, of brain cells, called brain organoids, serve as biological hardware.

Brain organoids don’t actually resemble tiny versions of the human brain, but the pen dot-size cell cultures contain neurons that are capable of brainlike functions, forming a multitude of connections.

Scientists call the phenomenon “intelligence in a dish.”

While artificial intelligence is inspired by human thought processes, the technology can’t fully replicate all capabilities of the human brain. This gap is why humans can use an image or text-based CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart, as an online security measure to prove they aren’t bots.

a human brain is more energy efficient as well as better at learning and making complex logical decisions. Something as basic as being able to tell one animal from another is a task the human brain easily does that a computer cannot.

Hartung defines organoid intelligence as “reproducing cognitive functions, such as learning and sensory processing, in a lab-grown human-brain model.”

Computers powered by human brain cells ,part of a new field called “organoid intelligence,” could shape the future.

Brain organoids are a type of lab-grown cell-culture. Even though brain organoids aren’t ‘mini brains’, they share key aspects of brain function and structure such as neurons and other brain cells that are essential for cognitive functions like learning and memory. Also, whereas most cell cultures are flat, organoids have a three-dimensional structure. This increases the culture’s cell density 1,000-fold, meaning that neurons can form many more connections.

Organoid intelligence( OI’s) promise goes beyond computing and into medicine. Thanks to a ground breaking technique developed by Noble Laureates John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, brain organoids can be produced from adult tissues. This means that scientists can develop personalized brain organoids from skin samples of patients suffering from neural disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. They can then run multiple tests to investigate how genetic factors, medicines, and toxins influence these conditions.

With OI, we could study the cognitive aspects of neurological conditions as well ; For example, we could compare memory formation in organoids derived from healthy people and from Alzheimer’s patients, and try to repair relative deficits. We could also use OI to test whether certain substances, such as pesticides, cause memory or learning problems.

Biocomputing is defined as the process of building computers that use biological materials, mimic biological organisms or are used to study biological organisms. Instead of electrical wiring and signaling, biological computers use chemical inputs and other biologically derived molecules such as proteins and DNA.


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