According to a recent article published in Frontiers, scientists are exploring the potential of brain-machine technologies as a new way of computing. Brain organoids, which are 3D cultures of human brain cells, could be used as biological hardware to run artificial intelligence (AI) programs.

This emerging field of organoid intelligence (OI) could one day be more efficient than current computers, which are reaching the physical limits of silicon technology. The authors of the paper, an international collaboration led by researchers at John Hopkins University, propose an ’embedded ethics’ approach to ensure OI develops in an ethical and socially responsible manner.

Brain organoids could have applications in medicine, specifically in the exploration of inter-individual neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, as well as drug testing research.

The human brain has an incredible capacity to store information, with the average brain able to store an estimated 2,500 terabytes. Brain organoids share key aspects of brain structure and function, making them a promising alternative to traditional computing hardware. In previous research, scientists have combined biological and synthetic elements to teach brain cells how to play Pong, but the authors envision even greater applications for OI.

However, there are ethical concerns associated with this technology, and the authors acknowledge this. They propose an interdisciplinary approach involving ethicists, researchers, and members of the public to identify, discuss, and analyze ethical issues and inform future research.

While the technology is not yet ready for deployment, the authors position their paper as a jumping-off point for further research. Functional brain organoids already exist, but researchers are working on characterizing and optimizing the system to develop a model of long-term learning.

The potential of OI could revolutionize the field of live sciences, bioengineering, and computer science by harnessing the power of the biological system to advance these fields.

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