London: Amoeboid yellow slime mould might become the basis of future ‘bio computers’ as it shows unlikely signs of intelligence, according to Japanese scientists.
According to the researchers, the 100-million-year-old creatures can work like a ‘network’ to navigate towards food and away from obstacles.
The colonies of the mould apparently ‘organise’ themselves so that they take the most direct route through a maze to find food, while at the same time avoiding damage from light.
The mould even appears to be able to ‘remember’ dangers and avoid them.
It is a job that would be beyond the capability of many advanced computers and software packages - and a level of ‘information processing’ that most of the humans would not think a single-celled organism would be skilled at.
“Simple creatures can solve certain kinds of difficult puzzles. If you want to spotlight the essence of intelligence, it’s easier to use these simple creatures,” Toshiyuki Nakagaki, of Future University Hakodate said.
The slime moulds are not intelligent as we understand it, but by flexibly responding to stresses like light, and adapting, they are able to solve navigation problems that would perplex computers.
The mould cells appear to operate as a ``network`` that can even remember when they experienced stresses and dangers, and adapt.
These primitive networks could be the key to building a new generation of biological computers, say researchers.
Other Japanese researchers are now intending to build on Nakagaki’s research and come up computer algorithms that simulate the primitive navigation used by the moulds.
“Ultimately, I’m interested in creating a bio-computer by using actual slime molds, whose information-processing system will be quite close to that of the human brain,” said Masahi Aono of Riken, a science research institute in Saitama.