Science & Tech

Biology and the Future of Computing: Organoid Intelligence

Organoid Intelligence (OI) intends to explore new horizons in information processing by using brain organoids produced from stem cells, giving possible advancements in understanding brain functions, learning, and memory.

The Big Idea

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made amazing technological advances in recent years. However, Organoid Intelligence (OI), a rising interdisciplinary sector that promises revolutionary biocomputing models, is expanding the scope of cognitive computing.

What is an Organoid?

  • An organoid is a form of tissue culture created from stem cells that is designed to replicate the structure and function of certain organs.
  • These three-dimensional structures are grown in vitro, or outside the body, under controlled settings that seek to reproduce the target organ’s microenvironment.
  • The term organoid refers to a variety of formations that resemble various organs or tissues.

Organoid Intelligence (OI)

  • Organoid Intelligence is a new multidisciplinary topic that combines biology and computing to investigate the possibility of employing brain organoids to attain cognitive capacities and improve our understanding of brain function.
  • The original idea is to use the unique qualities of brain organoids, which replicate some parts of brain structure and function, to create biocomputing models that can process information and potentially demonstrate rudimentary cognitive capacities.

Potential applications of OI

  • OI Cognitive Computing applications include integrating brain organoids and computing for information processing and adaptive learning.
  • Organoids are used to simulate diseases, test therapies, and research cognitive elements in disease modelling and drug testing.
  • Understanding Brain Development: Using Organoids to better understand early brain stages and cellular memory systems.
  • Personalised Brain Organoids: Creating organoids that can be studied in genetics, medicine, and cognitive problems.
  • Advantages over Traditional Computing: Investigating the potential of organoids for sophisticated data chores and energy-efficient processing.
  • Biocomputers and Energy Efficiency: Using brain organoids to create quicker, greener biocomputers.
  • Addressing ethical considerations such as informed consent, gene editing rules, and inclusive access.
  • Sustainable Alternatives: Providing environmentally friendly solutions for heavy cognitive work and learning as technology advances.

Experiment Overview:

  • Culturing Brain Organoids: The researchers cultured brain organoids, which are sophisticated three-dimensional structures produced from stem cells. These organoids are designed to mimic specific elements of brain growth and function.
  • Brain organoids were interfaced with computational simulations and algorithms using in silico computing. This integration was designed to improve brain processing and cognitive functioning.
  • Gameplay: Pong’: The brain organoids were taught how to play the famous video game Pong. They were programmed to react to critical in-game variables such as the simulated ball’s movement.
  • Mechanism of Learning: When the brain organoids failed to respond correctly in the game, the system sent them electrical pulses as feedback. This method is similar to the principle of reinforcement learning seen in live organisms.
  • The Free-Energy Principle Was Used: In the absence of real-time incentive systems such as dopamine pathways, the researchers used the free-energy principle. According to this idea, living systems aim to minimise unpredictability. The behaviour of brain organoids was modified to make the game environment more predictable.
  • Key Results: The brain organoids displayed symptoms of learning in response to game inputs in an incredibly short period of five minutes. The application of the free-energy principle demonstrated the ability to use computational concepts to guide the behaviour of brain organoids, guiding them towards predictable answers.

Challenges and ethical considerations associated with Organoid Intelligence


  • Technological Advances: Scaling up brain organoids and improving their cognitive capacities present considerable technological challenges. Among the hurdles include developing more sophisticated blood flow systems and introducing varied cell kinds.
  • Learning Complexity: Despite promising breakthroughs, acquiring advanced cognitive capacities in brain organoids remains a difficult endeavour. Imitating the complexities of learning and memory exhibited in human brains is a difficult task that requires additional investigation.
  • Knowledge Gap: Some components of OI technology have yet to be fully understood and developed. Improving memory storage systems within brain organoids to permit more complicated cognitive activities is one example.

Considerations for Ethical Behaviour:

  • Informed Consent: It is critical to obtain voluntary informed consent for cell donation in order to protect donors’ rights and dignity.
  • Discrimination and Selection Bias: Avoiding potential discrimination hazards and ensuring neurodiversity requires preventing selection biases during organoid development.
  • Gene Editing rules: To ensure responsible and ethical culturing of brain organoids, it is vital to balance commercial interests with ethical gene editing rules.
  • Data Sharing and Open Access: Promoting inclusivity and varied knowledge development by ensuring data sharing and open access to OI technologies.
  • Stakeholder-Informed laws: To ensure responsible usage, developing laws for the ethical use of OI technology involves stakeholder participation.
  • Concerns Regarding Consciousness and pain: Ethical concerns vary from the potential consciousness of brain organoids to the possibility of pain in these bioengineered systems.
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