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New Era: Robots with Human Brain Cells Created in China

Scientists are reporting the first large step in biocomputation with the development of a humanlike robot controlled by human brain cells. This pioneering establishment has sometimes been called the “brain on a chip,” indicating the huge step forward in the combined human-robot intelligence process.

It is a neuron robot that connects human stem cells that develop into brain cells, associated with a computer chip via an electrode. It may become able to perform many tasks by encoding and decoding information. A recent paper in the South China Morning Post on this innovation, according to researchers could lead to “the development of hybrid human-robot intelligence.”

The brain-on-chip technology allows the robot to avoid obstacles, solder targets, and manipulate its arm to grasp objects using electrical signals and sensory inputs. This research, conducted at Tianjin University, has been referred to by researchers as “the world’s first open-source brain-on-chip intelligent complex information interaction system.”

Photo by LJ on

This, according to Ming Dong, vice-president of Tianjin University, is a technology through in-vitro cultured brain, for example, organoids of brain use, where these two are coupled with the electrode chip. The coupling of the electrode chip with the in-vitro cultured brain gives rise to a brain-computer interface that could prolong the capabilities of these aforementioned robots by means of encoding and decoding simulation feedback.

Drawbacks still exist despite the great success shown. Li Xiaohong, a professor at Tianjin University, believes that some problems such as nutrient supply to the brain cells must be cleared. Concerning the potential applications this technology bears, they are quite wide, particularly in the area of medical science. The researchers believe definitely it would further improve the treatments for neurological conditions and recover the damage to the human cerebral cortex.

The thought that stems from the human brain cells in robots is rather not new. There have been projects, like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, that have worked on the medical use of chip implantation in humans. Neuralink is supposed to give medical professionals access to brain activity to help patients with neurological disorders. This year, Neuralink treated its first patient, which became a huge deal for the project.

In another related development, however, the Japanese researchers successfully developed a technique in which skin tissue can grow to be 0.2 millimeters thick on a robot and believe their work in the intersections of both biology and electronics will soon both include and benefit such robots. Leading how biology and technology are becoming one.

The science has been significantly enhanced since the introduction of organoids in 2013, artificially generated cells or tissues that mimic human organs. They provide much faster and safer means of scientific study, especially with organ maturation and disease in organs such as the brain, retina, kidneys, and lungs, to name but a few.

While these are a huge leap in computational intelligence, they also open up important questions of ethics. The ethics of such technologies will be called into question more and more as the border that separates biological intelligence from artificial intelligence continues to blur. The other set of problems includes the massive maintenance of these wetware machines, which need to be fed, watered, temperature-controlled, and shielded from germs and viruses.

The ground-breaking biocomputation gives an inkling not just into the potential of combining human body tissue with technology but also underlines the need, in turn, for careful and appropriate engagement with the ethical concerns and pragmatic challenges that such developments hold in store.

More for you:

  • Scientists develop the first robot controlled by a human ‘brain on chip’
  • China develops robots with lab-grown human brains after Elon Musk’s Neuralink project. Will it replace humans?
  • In China, a lab-grown brain-equipped robot is being developed to perform important tasks. 
  • Researchers have recently developed a robot powered by real human brain cells, making it inherently more intelligent than AI.

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