London: Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now taken a major step toward creating artificial intelligence—not in a robot or a silicon chip, but in a test tube.
The researchers are the first to have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can.
"The brain is incredible," says Lulu Qian, a Caltech senior postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and lead author of the study.
"It allows us to recognize patterns of events, form memories, make decisions, and take actions. So we asked, instead of having a physically connected network of neural cells, can a soup of interacting molecules exhibit brainlike behavior?"
The answer, as the researchers show, is yes.
Biochemical systems with artificial intelligence—or at least some basic, decision-making capabilities—could have powerful applications in medicine, chemistry, and biological research, the researchers say.