Booting Up An Organism

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 21 2013 @ 9:35am

Adam Baer notes that slime mold “is surprisingly adept at making maps.” Above is an experiment by computer scientists Andy Adam­atzky and Selim Akl:

[T]hey took a map of Canada, dropped oat flakes (slime-mold food) on the nation’s major cities, and placed the mold on Toronto. It oozed forth to form the most efficient paths to the cities, creating networks of “roads” that almost perfectly mimicked the actual Canadian highway system.

Kevin Hartnett adds:

Compared to static circuit boards, living organisms make great computers because they’re good at learning as they go along (slime mold can find increasingly efficient routes between two points with each iteration of an experiment). They’re also a lot heartier than silicon chips which buckle at the idea of a drop of water, opening the possibility of installing computers in environments like the bottom of the ocean or inside the human body.