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The Unique Promise of 'Biological Computers'

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Biologists are finally beginning to corral molecules, cells, and whole organisms into carrying out complex computations.

Credit: Supertotto

Scientists like Angel Goñi-Moreno at Spain's Technical University of Madrid envision biological computers not as rivals to conventional computers but as technology that could help researchers meet challenges in previously inaccessible domains.

Biocomputers' advantages over conventional systems include greater energy efficiency, self-repair, compactness, and the ability to process signals from the natural world.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Chris Voigt said the core concept of biological computing is harnessing cellular processes as biological circuits; biomolecular interactions absorb and process input into output, while editing these processes' underlying genetic instructions can reprogram the circuits.

Recent developments include researchers at India's Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics engineering a colony of E. coli bacteria to compute solutions to simple mazes via information-sharing.

Tufts University's Michael Levin thinks we need to shift focus from trying to re-engineer biological systems to finding ways to interface with what is already there.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2023 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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