Forget AI, organoid intelligence could take computing to the next level

A new concept called organoid intelligence, aiming to develop a new generation of biocomputers, was recently detailed by a group of researchers. They want to use advances in reproducing human brain cells in vitro to provide superior intelligence for the computers and smart devices of the future. This technology promises to be far more powerful and efficient than any form of artificial intelligence as we know it. This notion of organoid intelligence is described in an article that outlines a roadmap for the development of this technology, published in the journal Frontiers of Science by numerous scientists, mainly from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In their opinion, work on cerebral organoids derived from human stem cells should make it possible, in the relatively near future, to reproduce units endowed with memory and real learning ability. Organoids are miniature organs grown in vitro. The term organoid intelligence (OI) encompasses all of these developments and leads to a form of biological computing – or biocomputing – that takes advantage of neurons grown in a laboratory. All of that is enough to make things like ChatGPT already seem outdated.

Complex interfaces could eventually be networked, connecting brain organoids to sensory organoids such as retinal organoids. This could lead to new therapeutic applications, for example.

Organoid intelligence could have other benefits in terms of energy savings. Its energy consumption should actually be close to that of a human brain. This is said to have a “computing power” of about one ExaFlop and consume 20 watts, i.e. a million times better efficiency than modern machines (even if they perform completely different but complementary tasks). For comparison, Frontier, the most powerful supercomputer in the United States, is estimated to operate at 1.1 ExaFlop, equivalent to 1.2 billion billion operations performed in one second, at an estimated power consumption of 21 megawatts.

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However, given the many challenges that this type of research poses, the researchers also acknowledge that an ethical approach inevitably has to infuse their work. Therefore, it will be several years, even decades, before we get a glimpse of what organoid intelligence might have to offer.

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(This article was not edited by News18 staff and is published by a syndicated news outlet feed.)

Adithyan PAdithyan P, sub-editor at, writes on trending stories, science and politics…Read more

Initial publication: 14 Mar 2023 08:17 IST

Last updated: March 14, 2023 08:17 AM IST