Intelligent Life Slime mold grows toward patches of food with the efficiency of a network engineer.
Courtesy Andrew Adamatzky

Why Living Cells Are The Future Of Data Processing

Biocomputers make maps, run logic gates, perform binary calculations and more.
By Adam Baer
Posted 11.05.2012 at 10:00 am

Not all computers are made of silicon. By definition, a computer is anything that processes data, performs calculations, or uses so-called logic gates to turn inputs (for example, 1s and 0s in binary code) into outputs. And now, a small international community of scientists is working to expand the realm of computers to include cells, animals, and other living organisms. Some of their experiments are highly theoretical; others represent the first steps toward usable biological computers. All are attempts to make life perform work now done by chips and circuit boards.

Last year, for example, a computer scientist at the University of the West of England named Andy Adam­atzky and a team of Japanese researchers built logic gates that ran on soldier crabs. First they constructed mazes that replicated the shape of the wires in a computer’s logic gates.

Then they chased two swarms of crabs (inputs) from one end of the gate to the other. When the swarms collided, they combined to form a new swarm (output), which often headed in the direction of the sum of their vectors, demonstrating that a living, somewhat random system can produce useful order.

Read more: Why Living Cells Are The Future Of Data Processing | Popular Science.

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