Hundreds of thousands human brain cells grown in a petri dish have found a new meaning in life – they spend the day playing the retro videogame Pong. Australian scientists at Cortical Labs taught the cells to play in just five minutes, which is faster than artificial intelligence (AI) that picks up the game after 90 minutes. The system, called'DishBrain,' is comprised of brain cells grown on top of microelectrode arrays that can both stimulate the cells. To teach the mini-brains Pong, the team used a single player version of the game and sent electrical signals to either the right or left of the array to indicate where the ball is. The brain would then fire off neurons to move the paddle back and forth according to the location of the ball. Hundreds of thousands human brain cells grown in a petri dish have found a new meaning in life – they spend the day playing the retro videogame Pong.
Human Brain Cells In A Dish Learned How To Play The Game Pong, Did It Faster Than A.I. Earlier this week it was reported that a robot took just 90 minutes to learn how to play the game of ping pong in one example of just how far artificial intelligence has come. However, another scientific breakthrough revealed this week shows that the human brain is still superior to A.I. in at least one area: playing the video game PONG. Researchers at Cortical Labs discovered that hundreds of thousands of human brain cells in a dish can not only learn how to play PONG, they can improve their performance faster than artificial intelligence, reports New Scientist. We think it's fair to call them cyborg brains," said Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer of Cortical Labs. The "DishBrains" being created by Kagan and his colleagues each consist of between about 800,000 and 1 million living brain cells – roughly equivalent to a cockroach brain, says Kagan. Some contain mouse cells taken from embryonic brains while others contain human brain cells derived from stem cells. The cells are grown on top of microelectrode arrays that can both stimulate the cells and read their activity. To simulate a simplified version of Pong with no opponent, the firing of electrodes on the left or right of one array tell the mini-brain – the paddle – whether the ball is to its left or right. The frequency of the signals indicates closeness. Specific patterns of activity across the neurons are interpreted as the paddle moving left or right. The computer responds to this activity, and the feedback via the electrodes allows the mini-brains to learn how to control the paddle. "We often refer to them as living in the Matrix," said Kagan. "When they are in the game, they believe they are the paddle." While these brains in a dish aren't better PONG players than A.I. or real people, they do learn faster than AIs. "The amazing aspect is how quickly it learns, in 5 minutes in real time," said Kagan. "That's really an amazing thing that biology can do." Karl Friston of the University College London said about the research, "In my opinion, it is a quantum leap forward.
Living brain cells in a dish can learn to play Pong when they are placed in what researchers describe as a "virtual game world"."We Many teams around the world have been studying networks of neurons in dishes, often growing them into brain-like organoids. But this is the first time mini-brains have been found to perform goal-directed tasks, says Kagan. The "DishBrains" being created …
As a lover of tough single player games, I’m quite accustomed to getting my butt handed to me by AI, and usually not even a real one. I also happen to be the owner of a full sized human brain, and though it’s not without its problems, its ability to learn and change is usually why I eventually overcome those difficult in game challenges.So when I read about a few human brain cells in a petri dish that are already performing much better at a videogame than AI can, it’s concerning to me and my gaming future. New Scientist reports that a team in Australia has been growing these small puddles of brain and now one has learnt to play Pong, in fairly impressive time.Cortical labs is a company working on integrating biological neurons with your more traditional silicon based computing hardware. They grow brain cells on microelectronic arrays, so the cells can be stimulated. These hybrid chips are said to be able to learn and restructure themselves to get past problems, like stopping a sneaky ball that wants in your goal.According to Cortical labs, AIs typically take 90 minutes to learn Pong, whereas this ‘DishBrain’ (yes, that’s what it’s called) managed to have it down in five. Though the researchers do note that a good AI would still absolutely demolish the cells, once both properly trained.
What do you call a network of neurons connected to electrodes that learn to play Pong? Even the scientists behind the experiment don't know how to describe their creation. But the ethical questions that arise out of this fusion of neurons and silicon, are plenty. Brian Patrick Green takes a first shot at articulating them and suggests this might be the real future of Artificial Intelligence. On December 3, 2021 the Australian biological computing startup, Cortical Labs, released a pre-print article stating that it had turned a network of hundreds of thousands of neurons into a computer-like system capable of playing the video game Pong.