Mains Daily Question
Feb. 26, 2024

Q.2 What do you understand by Bio-Computer? Discuss the various opportunities in this technology? (10M, 150W)

Model Answer

Approach to the answer:

The question asks about the new technology, i.e. Bio-Computers and expects one to explain the working briefly. Further, the applications of this technology in the present and in future is to be discussed


We can introduce it by explaining what a biocomputer is, along with its important components. Here, one can also write the aim/purpose of this new technology.


We can start by explaining the mechanism behind the Bio-Computer, also explaining the future expectations from this technology. This will create a link between the introduction and later part of the answer, i.e. the opportunities in this technology. The next part should elaborate on the applications of Bio-Computers


Since it is an emerging technology, there is progress to be made in certain areas and improvements in the present technology. One can conclude by highlighting these future expectations going forward with this technology.


Answer: Bio-computers involve connecting 3D brain cultures cultivated in a lab to real-world sensors and input/output devices. This innovative technology aims to leverage the computational capabilities of the brain to gain insights into the biological underpinnings of human cognition, learning, and diverse neurological disorders. 


These 3D brain cultures (miniature brains), measuring up to 4 mm in size, are constructed from human stem cells and replicate numerous structural and functional aspects of a developing human brain. They serve as valuable tools for researching human brain development and assessing the effects of drugs.


Mechanism behind the ‘Bio-computer’:

  • Researchers aim to merge brain organoids with advanced computing techniques, employing machine learning to fashion "bio-computers."
  • These organoids will be cultivated within structures featuring multiple electrodes for recording neuron firing patterns and replicating sensory inputs.
  • Subsequently, machine learning methods will be employed to scrutinize how neuron responses impact human behavior and biology.


Opportunities for ‘Bio-computers’:

  • Complex Information Processing: They outshine machines at processing complex information.
  • Neurosciences and Drug Development: Brain organoids developed using stem cells from individuals with neurodegenerative diseases offer a powerful tool for understanding and potentially treating conditions like Parkinson's disease and microcephaly.
  • Comparative Studies: These organoids can provide insights into the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and memory by comparing the data on brain structure, connections, and signaling between healthy and patient-derived organoids.


Way Forward:

  • Scaling Up: To improve the computing capacity, there is a need to scale up the brain organoid as currently, the brain organoids have a diameter of less than 1 mm, roughly three-millionth the size of an actual human brain. Accordingly, there is a need for incorporating non-neuronal cells to aid biological learning.
  • Use of ‘Big Data’ Infrastructure: These hybrid systems will generate very large amounts of data (i.e.Neural recordings from each neuron and connection) that needs to be stored and analyzed using ‘Big Data’ infrastructure.
  • Microfluidic Systems: Researchers will also have to develop microfluidic systems to transport oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste products.
  • Ethical Issues: There is also a need to identify, discuss, and analyze ethical issues as they arise in the course of this work.
Subjects : Current Affairs
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