- Jun 7, 2022
Hundreds of thousands of human neurons growing in a dish coated with electrodes have been taught to play a version of the classic computer game Pong1.
In doing so, the cells join a growing pantheon of Pong players, including pigs taught to manipulate joysticks with their snouts2 and monkeys wired to control the game with their minds. (Google’s DeepMind artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithms mastered Pong many years ago3 and have moved on to more-sophisticated computer games such as StarCraft II4.)
Intelligence in a dishThe work is a proof of principle that neurons in a dish can learn and exhibit basic signs of intelligence, says lead author Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at Cortical Labs in Melbourne, Australia. “In current textbooks, neurons are thought of predominantly in terms of their implications for human or animal biology,” he says. “They’re not thought about as an information processor, but a neuron is this amazing system that can process information in real time with very low power consumption.”