Researchers at the Bristol-based University of the West of England have worked out a way to replace parts of a PC with mushrooms. Fungi contains things called “mycelium,” which are miniscule, thread-sized filaments primarily used to grow and expand.
These mycelium have been known to connect extremely large fungal growths, and it turns out they can connect bits of hardware inside of a computer as well. The conductive filaments can transmit electrical signals, receive them, and retain memory. Because of this, they’ve also been used to replicate components like a computer’s processor and RAM.
The biological computing researchers have used various types of mushrooms and molds for a number of computing purposes. They also claim there are some big advantages to using fungus in place of traditional silicon. The mushrooms have a larger fault tolerance than silicon counterparts, as they are capable of generating themselves. The fact it is a living, breathing, and growing organism also means it is easier to reconfigure than a traditional machine. Arguably, the most promising development centers on the way the fungus works.
It’s capable of behaving like human brain tissue, and uses “spiking” as a means of storing memory. The presence or lack of a spike can sort-of act like the binary code computers use to function. That being said, brain and fungus cells are capable of being far more dynamic than a standard computer. Scientists are already using brain cells for computing research, and some believe human grey matter will be key to creating the next generation of supercomputers. Fungi could produce a similar effect.