DishBrain Sounds Like Sci-Fi But Isn’t

Cultures display the ability to self-organize activity in a goal-directed manner in response to sparse sensory information about the consequences of their actions, which we term synthetic biological intelligence.

DishBrain Graphical abstract

That’s from the summary of a Neuron journal article published December 07, 2022, titled: In vitro neurons learn and exhibit sentience when embodied in a simulated game-world by Dr. Brett J Kagan, Andy C Kitchen, and Nhi T. Tran, Forough Habibollahi, Moein Khajehnejad, Bradyn J Parker, Anjali Bhat, Ben Rollo, Adeel Razi, and Karl J. Friston of Cortical Labs.

Using this DishBrain system, we have demonstrated that a single layer of in vitro cortical neurons can self-organize activity to display intelligent and sentient behavior when embodied in a simulated game-world. We have shown that even without a substantial filtering of cellular activity, statistically robust differences over time and against multiple controls could be observed in the behavior of neuronal cultures in their sensed world.”

In a BBC.com article by Pallab Ghosh also published on 12 October 2022 titled: Lab-grown brain cells play video game Pong, there is quote about that sentient bit: “We could find no better term to describe the device,” Dr Kagan says. ”It is able to take in information from an external source, process it and then respond to it in real time.”

There’s some dispute over what is sentience but also quoted in that BBC article:

Artificial-intelligence (AI) researchers have already produced devices that can beat grandmasters at chess. But Prof Karl Friston, of University College London, who is working with Dr Kagan, says: “The mini-brain learned without it being taught and so is more adaptable and flexible.”

Wow, right?!

But, of course, there’s more…

DishBrain under a microscope.

This week we’ve learned that these Australian scientists from Cortical Labs along with Monash University have received a $600,000 grant by the Australian government’s Office of National Intelligence, to be managed by the Australian Research Council, in the hopes of merging human brain cells with artificial intelligence.

Associate prof Adeel Razi, from the university’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, said their work “merges the fields of artificial intelligence and synthetic biology to create programmable biological computing platforms”.” Source: The Guardian, July 21, 2023, Australian DishBrain team wins $600,000 grant to merge AI with human brain cells.

I saw one article this week that refers to this effort as the weaponization of AI and certainly that will be one of the uses of this technology. I know from my own experiences in Watson that the Australian government have had an interest in cognitive computing and AI for a long time.

You have to love how everyone is shouting, “SLOW IT DOWN! IMPLEMENT REGULATIONS! WE HAVE TO BE CAUTIOUS OF THIS EXISTENTIAL THREAT!” as they go at breakneck speed to fund and develop the AI technology as quickly as they possibly can.

Human brain cells in a dish learn to play Pong | DishBrain

3 thoughts on “DishBrain Sounds Like Sci-Fi But Isn’t

  1. John Behnken says:

    All but proves we nay actually live in a simulation. 😉

      1. admin says:

        I hope we are. It’s a source of comfort to think that’s the actual reality.

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