Australia's Office of National Intelligence has awarded a $600,000 AUD grant to a Melbourne-based startup focused on the merging of artificial intelligence and human brain cells.
The Melbourne-based startup called Cortical Labs successfully demonstrated last year that a cluster of approximately 800,000 brain cells within a petri dish is able to play a game of Pong. This scientific achievement attracted significant attention, resulting in the US $404,745 grant. According to a recent press release, the team is looking to grow human brain cells onto silicon chips, which would then be taught to perform goal-directed tasks.
According to the researchers that are working on the project, this new technology has the capabilities in the future of surpassing the performance of purely silicon-based hardware. Notably, the outcomes of successfully creating such a technology would have massive implications across multiple fields of technology, science, culture, robotics, and more.
More specifically, the project has garnered funding due to the potential applications of machine learning in various aspects, such as self-driving cars, autonomous drones, delivery robots, and intelligent handheld/wearable devices.
"This new technology capability in future may eventually surpass the performance of existing, purely silicon-based hardware. The outcomes of such research would have significant implications across multiple fields such as, but not limited to, planning, robotics, advanced automation, brain-machine interfaces, and drug discovery, giving Australia a significant strategic advantage," said Associate Professor Adeel Razi, from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health.
"We will be using this grant to develop better AI machines that replicate the learning capacity of these biological neural networks. This will help us scale up the hardware and methods capacity to the point where they become a viable replacement for in silico computing, "said Razi.