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The merging of human and machine has taken another step forward as researchers have built a "biocomputer". Bioengineers at the University of Indiana in the USA have combined laboratory-grown human brain tissue with microelectrodes. The scientists have dubbed their creation Brainoware. It is in its embryonic stage of development, but it can already perform complex tasks such as voice recognition. Lead researcher Dr Feng Guo hopes his softer-than-usual software will help to advance AI technologies. It could also mean AI hardware uses far less energy than solely using silicon chips. Dr Guo said: "This is just proof-of-concept to show that we can do the job. We still have a long way to go."

The researchers said their Brainoware system utilizes "organoids". These are artificially grown bundles of tissue and stem cells that resemble an organ. Dr Guo said his team's organoids are like mini-brains. They have transformed and developed neurons, akin to those found in the human brain. The researchers say their next step is to investigate how Brainoware can be adapted to undertake higher-level tasks. The technology could one day be used to create improved models of the brain, and move neuroscience research forward. It could also lead to cures for neurological diseases. One major challenge for the researchers is to find solutions for how to keep the living tissue alive.



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