Have you ever wanted to play videogames all day? What if that was the only thing your brain could do?
That’s already the case for DishBrain. Made of 800,000 lab-grown human brain cells, this mini-brain exists for one purpose: to play Pong, the 1972 Atari classic.
Scientists grew the first “mini-brains” in 2013. (See Brains in a Dish.) Now a team in Melbourne, Australia, has shown that a tiny lab-grown brain can perform tasks.
“We’ve never before been able to see how the cells act in a virtual environment,” says Dr. Brett Kagan, lead author of the study.
Pong works like digital table tennis. Players move paddles to hit a square representing a ping pong ball. If you’re unfamiliar, don’t worry. You’ll catch on quick. DishBrain learned to play in just five minutes.
The Melbourne team created the mini-brain from mouse brain cells and human stem cells. The cells grew on top of a computer chip. That chip sent signals to the mini-brain.
Real human brains receive all sorts of signals. You know them as the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. But DishBrain receives just a handful of signals: Where’s the ball? How far is it from the paddles? Did the paddle hit the ball?
In other words? For DishBrain, life is Pong.
If this whole idea gives you the creeps, you’re not alone. Scientists know much about the human brain, but much more remains unknown.
Humans can think and feel in a way animals can’t. We’re made in God’s image. But what about lab-grown human brain cells? Just how “human” are they?
Even experts don’t know what happens in the mind of a mini-brain—if anything. The Melbourne team claims DishBrain has sentience, meaning it can think and feel. Others hesitate to use that word. DishBrain can react to signals, they say, but it doesn’t truly think.
“In truth, we don’t really understand how the brain works,” says Dr. Kagan.
Mini-brains could transform artificial intelligence. Unlike computers, mini-brains can learn on their own. Nobody taught DishBrain how to play Pong. Across the same number of games, DishBrain learned faster than a computer.
Pong is just the beginning. DishBrain’s creators hope this “biological intelligence” will someday accomplish more complex tasks. Scientists could also use DishBrain to test new medicines and gene therapies.
Should scientists press onward to explore brain-powered technology? Or should they think twice before playing games (in this case, literally) with the human brain?
Those questions are a bit more complicated than a game of Pong.
Why? Science can accomplish incredible things—even things scientists themselves don’t understand! But it takes wisdom to know when we’ve gone too far.
this is absolutely TERRIFYING
this is absolutely TERRIFYING!
Anyone remember the movie WALL-E?
I remember the movie Wall-E
I remember the movie Wall-E but according to what they said about this mini brain learning faster it actually might be smarter than the robots in the movie Wall-E
But what happens when it over throws obsolete humans?
@ All/ This is Bella
That guy has pretty good posture for someone who's spending A LOT of time bending over small pieces! XD
This is interesting
This is interesting
Oh boy! This is...
Oh boy! This is... interesting and creepy all at the same time.
OMGosh i forgot abt that moovie!
Dude Bella you right
Sara I totolly get you!!!
Did yall read the one abt robot skin?!?!
This seems weird...
Okay. So, let's get the record straight. Scientists can do some great thinks, some horrible things, and some things that just totally waste time. If any of you had a subscription to WORLD Kids in the past, like i did, you might remember the news short about scientists in Israel teaching fish to drive. Now, I see how that was funny, makes some news, and maybe even money (I don't know how much) but I deem it a complete waste of time (AND money). So, you might ask, why am I correlating this article about lab grown human and rat brain cells (does anything about that combination scream ABOMONATION to you?) taught to play a virtual version of ping pong to Israeli scientists teaching fish to drive? Because I believe they, and so many other "experiments" are waists of time and recourses. I mean, why couldn't the brain cell growers look for a cure to brain cancer and the fish test driver supervisors create a robotic fish to seek out or lay mines for the Israeli army? God gave us our lives, and the time and inclinations we have are for him, and should be used to benefit His creation, not make us seem cool, funny, or nerdy.
Have a great day!
Ok wow its pretty neat this brain can play pong. I 'd want a brain to function in all videogames to see if it could get beat me cause It'd be funny getting beaten by a robot
This seems cool but I'm interested to know what would happen if it played temple run
that is so creepy, but it is also super cool
Uuh. . .
Gee, I don't even know what to say. My brain would be fried.