This truly startling talk by Professor Michael Levin, from the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, has implications for everything – not just regenerative medicine.
It is no exaggeration to describe the work done in Levin’s lab as Frankensteinian. This is not a criticism, just an inevitable observation.
Levin describes biochemical interventions that can effect electrical transmission at the inter-cellular level in a range of organisms. These change the parameters for regeneration of body parts and reveal that a non-neural regenerative memory can exist throughout an organism. From the start of evolution of ‘primitive’ life forms, anatomical decision-making is taking place in every cell, and at every level of body structure.
Levin gives a highly informed factual account of findings in bioelectrical computation. Although he only touches on the implications, these techniques potentially lead to a technology that can design new life-forms and biologically-based computation devices.
It seems incredible that research results like these are possible now. It may be years or decades before it translates into medical interventions for humans, or is applied to creating biologically-based artificial intelligence, but the vision is clear.
To me, more frightening than the content of this talk, is the Facebook logo hanging over Levin’s head (no doubt just promotion, but still!).
YouTube Video, What Bodies Think About: Bioelectric Computation Outside the Nervous System – NeurIPS 2018, Artificial Intelligence Channel, December 2018, 52:06 minutes