Scientists control Venus flytrap with implanted computer brain

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of scientists has successfully taken control of the Venus flytrap, a species of cultivated carnivorous plant, by implanting a tiny microchip into it.

This “artificial neutron” was able to cause plants to open and close – the traditional way of devouring prey – by mimicking the brain’s processing and communication methods.

The human brain is one of the most advanced computers ever built,” Simone Fabiano, associate professor at Link√∂ping University in Sweden and senior author of the new study published in Nature, told Cosmos.

“It has a huge amount of memory, perfectly processes information and makes decisions, while consuming very little energy,” he says. “In contrast, human-made supercomputers are bulky and consume a lot of power.”

The team’s artificial neurons mimic biological neurons by changing the concentration of ions in an organic electrochemical transistor.

This approach, they say, has a number of advantages, including significant power savings over traditional silicon-based circuits.

The researchers’ neurons fired electrical currents inside the Venus flytrap’s cells to trigger the plants’ natural reflexes and cause them to slam shut.

In addition to carnivorous plants, such technologies could have a myriad of other uses, from implantable medical devices to intelligent soft robotics.

“Neurons, along with synapses, are the building blocks of our brain,” Fabiano told Cosmos. “The ability to mimic the functioning of biological neurons using electronic devices could enable the development of artificial intelligence technologies.”

It’s a small step towards fully modeling “the efficiency of our brains,” she explained, “but I believe we’re on the right track to showcase printed, small artificial neural networks.”

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