back to article Boffins grow human brain cells to play Pong

Researchers have succeeded in growing brain cells in a lab and hooking them up to electronic connectors proving they can learn to play the seminal console game Pong. Led by Brett Kagan, chief scientific officer at Cortical Labs, the researchers showed that by integrating neurons into digital systems they could harness "the …

  1. Efer Brick

    They can fight it out with

    https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/10/12/1061204/human-brain-cells-transplanted-baby-rats-brains/

    1. First Light
      Coffee/keyboard

      Dear Deity, but that's gross! We're well on our way to chimera territory.

      Icon: That's not coffee on my keyboard . . .

  2. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Sentience

    Some fifty years ago I read a science fiction story about sentient cells that conquered the world.

    Obviously a neuron has more possibilities than a mere transistor.

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: Sentience

      Ah, Brian Aldis, The Canopy of Time.

      One of the most depressing series of short stories in history.

  3. just another employee

    Why?

    OK - who out there asked for this ?

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Because this sort of stuff is how you figure out exactly how biological neurons really work, at a biochemical level. That, in turn, is how you, eventually, many years and a whole lot of research later, figure out how to fix brain disease, fix traumatic nerve injuries, make brain-machine interfaces, and so on and so forth.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Did it look like a Dalek?

        (No, not their mobile "tanks", the actual creature inside that operates it)

    2. Frank Bitterlich

      Re: Why?

      Atari?

  4. Steve Crook

    Does no-one read science fiction any more?

    When does a brain in a box, jar or other container experiment not go horribly wrong at some point?

    1. Brian 3

      Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

      We've fixed that! They are using only the finest organic free-range brain cells. Fair trade certified! Though I'm not sure what they promised the cells in return for cooperation?

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

        Though I'm not sure what they promised the cells in return for cooperation?

        Booze, obviously.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

          No cocaine and hookers?

          1. Ken Shabby

            Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

            Ask Paris, oh wait...

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

      It's a real problem if you put them as the control systems of your 10 mile long generational survey ship & designate them Ancillary Guardians of Environment and Life (See icon).

    3. Martin Summers

      Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

      "When does a brain in a box, jar or other container experiment not go horribly wrong at some point?"

      They did a documentary on just this subject once. Used to be on TV. Futurama I think it was.

    4. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: Does no-one read science fiction any more?

      Friz Leiber, The Silver EggHeads.

      However, I always thought the idea of disembodied brains would lead to stunning boredom rather than deep immersive thinking.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet,....

    Still more intelligent than your average Chancellor

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: And yet,....

      There's many more to choose from nowadays. Apparently, there have been more Chancellors of the Exchequer in the last 5 months than were in government for the 20 years preceding the last election! Strong and Stable indeed!!!

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    plans to get the dish-based puddle of neurons drunk on booze to find out if it might work

    Apparently he's already started work on this, and the initial results on its ability to perform simple tasks are so encouraging that the drunken dish-brain is now odds on favourite to be the next Tory prime minister.

  7. redpawn

    It's only Human

    No ethical issues I guess, so it's all good.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm old

    Apparently I'm so old now that things I remember from youth have to be explained. Do people honestly not know what pong is anymore? Now where'd I leave my cane...

    1. Martin Summers

      Re: I'm old

      Next to your slippers and your involuntary 'sample'.

      1. Denarius Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I'm old

        ah yes, as one becomes ancient Pong becomes built in... My coats the one with the spray deodorant

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: I'm old

      Pong? I get at blank stare* from my staff when I mention Win95.

      * not in horror, just a clueless blank stare.

  9. Martin Howe
    Joke

    But can it play Doom?

    1. jake Silver badge

      No. It's a Crysis freak.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      No, it's a character IN Doom :-)

  10. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

    It's official

    You can play video games with 0.0001% of your brain.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: It's official

      As long as you're not trying to do anything else useful, like process/filter inputs from actual nerves/senses, store and recall memory, breathe, maintain heartbeat and body temp, digest, locomotion, et cetera.

  11. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    "sentient" is fine

    The etymological, technical meaning of "sentient" is "experiencing sensation". Inasmuch as this puddle of neurons apparently responds to changes in its environment, the term is fine.

    It's primarily the less rigorous sort of SF which has used "sentient" as a synonym for "sapient", a rather different attribute.

    99% of discussions of sentience are irrelevant and misguided. It's not the interesting question.

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