Crab computer made by Japanese scientists.

Japanese Scientists Build a Computer From Swarming Crabs

Japanese Scientists Build a Computer From Swarming Crabs

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April 16 2012 1:42 PM

Japanese Scientists Build a Computer From Swarming Crabs

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A rudimentary computer--or at least a basic computation process--has been created with the help of swarming crabs in Japan. Dungeness Crabs sit in a bin in San Francisco, California.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The future of computing is ... crabs?

Computer scientists at Kobe University in Japan built a crab computer—or a basic functioning set of simple processes called logic gates—with the help of groups of crustaceans.

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Motivating the groups of crabs to move through geometrically constrained environments by mimicking the shadow of predatory birds, the scientists built AND, OR, and NOT logic gates. According to Wired, "The findings open up the possibility of creating an unconventional computing model where the zeros and ones are represented by the absence or presence of a swarm of crabs." 

Edible computers do sound pretty awesome—and you might need to eat a meal or two while waiting for a crab computer to load a simple website. But these soldiers were freed once the experiment was over. Some bits are better left in the ocean.

Video produced by Jim Festante.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.