In a straight-out-of-sci-fi experiment, University of Florida researchers grew neurons on a computer chip – and the neurons started to think. That is to say, they started to show signs of brain activity. By the time the brain cells had been left to grow for 30 days, researchers measured levels of neural activity approaching those present in a real, live, developing mammal brain. IT’S ALIIIIVE!
Well, sort of alive, anyway. The computer-chip model that researchers designed cannot, by itself, retain information or demonstrate intellectual capacity. The success of this synthetic brain does, however, suggest the possibility of future treatments for brain trauma or for brain-matter replacement in the wake of disorders like strokes.
This is not the first synthetic brain to show promise, though it is the most tangibly biological (Stanford researcher Kwabena Boahen, PhD, for example, has developed a computer chip theoretically capable of powering a computer with the intelligence of the human mind). One can only imagine the evil cackling that would ensue if these technologies ever wound up in the wrong hands.