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Xcell Journal

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Biologically-inspired computing, Computational intelligence, Artificial intelligence -- Biological applications, Biological systems -- Simulation methods


A unique, scientific research instrument and art piece, the BioWall models bio-inspired electronic tissues capable of evolution, selfrepair, self-replication – and learning. Much pure and applied scientific research has focused on replicating biological functions in digital hardware. Here, at the Logic Systems Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), we have utilized 5,700 Xilinx Spartan™ FPGAs, in multiple configurations, to build bio-inspired computing machines that exploit three essential biological models: • Phylogenesis – the history of the evolution of the species • Ontogenesis – the development of an individual as directed by his genetic code • Epigenesis – the development of an individual through learning processes (nervous system, immune system), influenced both by genetic code (the innate) and environment (the acquired). Although we have individually and jointly investigated all three models, we have concentrated on the ontogenetic model through the Embryonics (embryonic electronics) Project. This project studies the development of multi-cellular organisms for the purpose of obtaining in digital hardware some of the features of biological organisms, notably growth and fault tolerance.


This article was originally published in Xilinx Xcell Journal and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of Xilinx. The article can be found at the following URL on the Xilinx Xcell Journal website:

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