AFP AFP PHOTO / MUOTRI LAB / UCTV
Human brain cells grown in a Petri dish with the help of microelectrodes have acquired the art of playing the video game “Pong” faster than artificial intelligence.
Harnessing hundreds of thousands of human brain cells grown in microelectrode arrays, researchers at Australia’s Cortical Labs have taught the biotech hybrid they called “DishBrain” to play a single-player version of old-school “Pong.” They then compared the speed at which the mini-brain acquires the skill with artificial intelligence (AI). Human brain cells beat their competitors, beating the game in just five minutes, compared to the 90 minutes it took for a machine to catch up.
It’s not all that is cut and dried, Brett Kagan, scientific director of the lab leading the research, told New Scientist. Once the AI learns to play, it ends up becoming more adept than human brain cells.
Despite this, the scientists behind the project say it demonstrated that “a single layer of laboratory cortical neurons can self-regulate and display intelligent and conscious behavior.” Furthermore, this could have some practical ramifications as well, as Cortical Labs hopes the research will help pave the way for the fusion of “living biological neurons” with “traditional silicon computing” into what could be a convenient and efficient cyborg brain. .
And if that wasn’t science fiction enough, New Scientist quoted the researchers referring to human brain cells as “living in the womb.” Here’s what that means: When the mini-brain plays the simplified version of “Pong,” the brain cells are tricked into thinking that it is the paddle that hits the ball in the game.
For the same experiment, brain cells are placed on top of arrays of microelectrodes that stimulate them, sending electrical signals to the left or right arrays to indicate where the ball is. In response, the DishBrain fires neurons to move the racket, while the electrodes themselves analyze neural activity and allow virtual reality to respond accordingly.
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