Can a Computer Be Created From Mushrooms? Quite Possibly.

The idea of combining the worlds of fungi and computers probably scares more than a few fans of The Last of Us.

(And they’d probably double down on the fear when they hear about the connection between computers and cordyceps.)

But in the United Kingdom, researchers at the Unconventional Computing Laboratory (great name) at Bristol’s University of West England are looking into how well mushrooms can carry out computing functions.

Popular Science reports on Professor Andrew Adamatzky’s lab, which is using the mushroom’s mycelium (the root structure of fungus) to send and receive signals and retain memory. Adamatzky said mushrooms are ideal for these experiments because, as TechSpot reported, their mycelia act like the human brain.

And because of that, Adamatzky’s experiments go beyond that of computing, according to Popular Science. A different geometric pattern on mycelia can create different functions. “It’s possible to implement neuromorphic circuits…We can say I’m planning to make a human brain from mushrooms.”

Adamatzky adds these experiments are all about feasibility right now, but that it’s possible to do basic computing with mycelia.

Before mushrooms, researchers used slime molds

Before his lab began working with mushrooms, Adamatzky was working with slime molds on computing problems, which is way cooler than it sounds. Again, according to Popular Science, slime molds can “figure out their way around problems, like finding the shortest path through a maze without programmers…[telling them] what to do.”

After a decade working with molds, Adamatzky turned his attention to mushrooms, because of both their similarities to molds and their more advanced features.

TechSpot adds that this research could have implications in machine-brain interfacing, which could help with disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

The mushrooms Adamatzky’s team has worked on so far include oyster fungi, split gill fungi, and yes, caterpillar fungi. Or as it’s known scientifically, cordyceps militari.

You can come out from under the desk, Last of Us fans.

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