Researchers Teach Human Brain Cells in a Dish to Play “Pong”

[…] Researchers at the biotechnology startup Cortical Labs have created “mini-brains“ consisting of 800,000 to one million living human brain cells in a petri dish, New Scientist reports. The cells are placed on top of a microelectrode array that analyzes the neural activity.


To teach the mini-brains the game, the team created a simplified version of “Pong” with no opponent. A signal is sent to either the right or left of the array to indicate where the ball is, and the neurons from the brain cells send signals back to move the paddle.

“We often refer to them as living in the Matrix,” Kagan told the magazine, in a horrifyingly reference to the 1999 movie in which humans are enslaved by AI overlords in an all-encompassing simulation. “When they are in the game, they believe they are the paddle.”

Well, that’s a scary enough concept to cause some existential panic for anyone.

Faster Than AI

Kagan said that while the mini-brains can’t play the game as well as a human, they do learn faster than some AIs.

“The amazon aspect is how quickly it learns, in five minutes, in real time,” he told New Scientist. “That’s really an amazing thing that biology can do.”

While this is certainly some amazing Twitch fodder, the team at Cortical Labs hope to use their findings to develop sophisticated technology using “live biological neurons integrated with traditional silicon computing,” according to the outfit’s website.


Source: Researchers Teach Human Brain Cells in a Dish to Play “Pong”

Robin Edgar

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