Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Could we create a biological supercomputer? © Getty Images

Could we create a biological supercomputer?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

As biocomputing gets more advanced we get closer and closer to living supercomputers.

Asked by: John Scott, Bromley


There are some major research projects that are trying to build silicon computers that work like biological brains. For example, Steve Furber’s SpiNNaker aims to make a supercomputer that can simulate one billion neurons.

Some labs are also trying to make real wet biology behave like a computer. Genetically engineered bacteria can be made to perform some basic calculations, and might one day be programmed to detect and treat inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer. With billions of bacteria all computing in parallel, these would make a supercomputer in your own gut.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.


Sponsored content