A team of scientists working to merge human brain cells with artificial intelligence (AI) has won a $600,000 grant from the Australian government.
The same AI scientists made headlines last year for “teaching” a cluster of brain cells in a Petri dish to play the video game Pong.
The grant came from the Office of National Intelligence, which oversees the country’s intelligence community.
The Guardian reports:
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.”
He said that such intelligence would improve machine learning for technology, including self-driving cars, autonomous drones, and delivery robots.
“This new technology capability in the future may eventually surpass the performance of existing, purely silicon-based hardware,” Razi added.
“The outcomes of such research would have significant implications across multiple fields such as – but not limited to – planning, robotics, advanced automation, brain-machine interfaces, and drug discovery, giving Australia a significant strategic advantage.”
The DishBrain research aims to understand the biological mechanisms behind ongoing learning.
“We will be using this [national intelligence and security discovery research] grant to develop better AI machines that replicate the learning capacity of these biological neural networks,” Razi said.
“This will help us scale up the hardware and methods capacity to the point where they become a viable replacement for in-silico computing [using simulations].”
A similar funding was reported by The Daily Fetched last year when brain-computer interface company Syncron announced it had received $75 million for its latest round of funding from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
Synchron is focused on restoring some helpful capabilities to paralyzed patients, who can use its Synchron Switch, a brain-computer interface (BCI), to move a computer cursor on a screen with just their thoughts. With a minimally-invasive procedure, the BCI is implanted in the blood vessel on the surface of the motor cortex of the brain via the jugular vein. Other companies, including Neuralink, use more invasive techniques that involve going through the skull.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s venture, Neuralink, is developing an implant placed in the brain through a robot-assisted procedure.
Musk has said in the past that the less invasive Link device (compared to other deep brain stimulation systems that are implanted around the chest area) is implanted through the skull.
The entrepreneur claims it could be implanted in less than one hour in an outpatient setting and without the use of general anesthesia, with options for removal or upgrades down the line.
Do you think its a good idea to merge AI with human brain cells?