While thinking about ways, for a science fiction story, to have the internet coming "alive", I concocted the idea of a computer network acting as a nervous system, or cell system. It goes like this:
- Each computer provides several web servers, the equivalent of neurons;
- Each web server presents many web services, one for the axon and one for each dendrite;
- Each web service has many functions, each one corresponding to a neurotransmitter and/or its receptor.
For instance, server A calls the function serotonin() from one service of server B; this would be equivalent to neuron A sending a single molecule of serotonin to neuron B.
Each neuron/server would analyze the pattern of receiving calls, and use the information to decide what services/functions it will call. With a suitably customized algorithm in each neuron/server, like in current artificial neurons, it could simulate an actual neuron. A simulation of C. Elegans, an animal with 959 cells, should be doable with a few current computers.
Simplicity. Current neuron simulations run in supercomputers, with custom software. In my idea, the only custom software is in the services; the networking is for free, with TCP/IP and HTTP.
Scalability. Adding new neurons should be as simple as adding another computer to the network, and putting a few web servers online on it.
It's slow. Each server/neuron interaction would take milliseconds, counting network latency; I don't know if actual neurons are faster than that.
Tricky timing. Most brain activity depends on precise timing on neuron activation - seizures are a problem of activation timing. Network latency can confuse the neuron/server timing.
Now, to the actual question: Is there any research, in real life, about something similar to my idea? The following are not similar: