The ethics of making computer chips with human cells

Tech firms are already experimenting on biological chips using lab-grown human neurons. Such hybrid chips could potentially outperform silicon ones.

One of the barriers to brain donation is that the brain is seen as linked to your identity. PHOTO: UNSPLASH
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The year is 2030 and we are at the world's largest tech conference, CES, in Las Vegas. A crowd is gathered to watch a big tech company unveil its new smartphone. The chief executive officer comes to the stage and announces the Nyooro, containing the most powerful processor ever seen in a phone. The Nyooro can perform an astonishing quintillion operations per second, which is a thousand times faster than smartphone models in 2020. It is also 10 times more energy-efficient with a battery that lasts for ten days.

A journalist asks: "What technological advance allowed such huge performance gains?" The chief executive replies: "We created a new biological chip using lab-grown human neurons. These biological chips are better than silicon chips because they can change their internal structure, adapting to a user's usage pattern and leading to huge gains in efficiency."

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