"Here we demonstrate an assembly of molecular switches that simultaneously interact to perform a variety of computational tasks including conventional digital logic, calculating Voronoi diagrams, and simulating natural phenomena such as heat diffusion and cancer growth. As well as representing a conceptual shift from serial-processing with static architectures, our parallel, dynamically reconfigurable approach could provide a means to solve otherwise intractable computational problems."
The researchers made their different kind of computer with DDQ, a hexagonal molecule made of nitrogen, oxygen, chlorine and carbon that self-assembles in two layers on a gold substrate. The DDQ molecule can switch among four conducting states -- 0, 1, 2 and 3 -- unlike the binary switches -- 0 and 1 -- used by digital computers. [...]
Their tiny processor can solve problems for which algorithms on computers are unknown, especially interacting many-body problems, such as predictions of natural calamities and outbreaks of disease. To illustrate this feature, they mimicked two natural phenomena in the molecular layer: heat diffusion and the evolution of cancer cells.
So, it sounds like it's a 2-bit cellular automaton where each cell is composed of only 8 molecules (wow). But they said that each cell can route to ~300 others, so it must not be laid out in a hexagonal grid. My guess is that they way they are geting it to do anything is by training a neural net until it evolves custom solutions to whatever problems they have success-conditions for. But has anyone ever gotten an artificial neural network to evolve to something actually useful in the real world, or is it all still AI boondoggle?