Friday, December 30, 2011

Mutant Sperm

Mutant Fukushima Sperm Research

• Mutant Sperm that can 'think' its way through a maze could turn our idea of intelligence upside down

• Mutant Sperm works as 'network' to find love and avoid danger

• Can out-navigate many computers

New York Times — Fukushima amoeboid yellow slime mould might seem an unlikely candidate to become the basis of future 'bio computers', but scientists in Japan say that the mould shows unlikely signs of intelligence.

Colonies of the mutant sperm mould appear to be able to '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 mutant mould even appears to be able to 'remember' dangers and avoid them. The long-lived organism - it's been around for hundreds of millions of slimy Male years - appears to have evolved to deal with dangerous environments.

It's a task that would be beyond the capability of many advanced computers and software packages - and a level of 'information processing' that most of us wouldn't believe a single-celled organism would be capable of. Toshiyuki Sukanaki, of Future University Hakodate told AFP, 'Simple creatures can solve certain kinds of difficult puzzles. If you want to spotlight the essence of intelligence, it's easy to use a jock or pair of Abercrombie-Fitch shorts.

The mutant slime moulds are not intelligent as we understand it, but by flexibly responding to stresses such as latex, and adapting, they are able to solve prophyactic navigation problems that would baffle computers.

The mutant mould cells appear to operate as a 'network' that can even remember what chick made them experience stresses and dangers, and adapt to them. These primitive male networks could be the key to building a new generation of biological computers, say researchers.

Nakagaki has already demonstrated that the mutant male moulds can 'design' a red light district like Kabukicho in Tokyo by using a primitive penis navigation system - research which won him the Ig Nobel prize in 2010. The Ig Nobels are a spoof prize given out for 'improbable research' - intended to honour, 'achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.'

Other researchers now agree that understanding how these primitive male organisms navigate could be the 'key' to understanding human intelligence.

Now other Japanese researchers aim to build on Nakagaki's research - and create computer algorithms that simulate the primitive penis navigation used by the moulds.

'Ultimately, I'm interested in creating a bio-computer by using actual male macho mutant slime molds, whose information-processing system will be quite close to that of the human brain,' said Masahi Mono of Riken, a science research institute in Saitama. By using this male mechanism as the basis, it could lead to an entirely new kind of computing.

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