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October 15, 2009

Slime molds can be coaxed to assemble or transport small objects and perform basic computations.


Slime mold technology. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Slime molds may not look particularly intelligent, but they could one day solve complex math problems and build machines. So says Andy Adamatzky, professor of unconventional computing at the University of the West of England.

ANDY ADAMATZKY (University of the West of England):
Ideally, we are planning to make an amorphous robot, which has no structure, which has no centralized control, and which has embedded amorphous intelligence.

Slime molds grow tendrils that navigate around obstacles to find the shortest route to food. By directing the molds with strategically placed oat flakes, Adamatzky’s team coaxed them into solving geometric problems, transporting specks of material, and assembling small structures. Among other things, Adamatzky says the molds could offer a cheap and precise way to build tiny devices. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.