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posted by martyb on Sunday October 08, @09:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-Robot dept.

From Quanta Magazine, A Brain Built From Atomic Switches Can Learn:

Now engineering researchers at the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles [UCLA], are hoping to match some of the brain's computational and energy efficiency with systems that mirror the brain's structure. They are building a device, perhaps the first one, that is "inspired by the brain to generate the properties that enable the brain to do what it does," according to Adam Stieg, a research scientist and associate director of the institute, who leads the project with Jim Gimzewski, a professor of chemistry at UCLA.

The device is a far cry from conventional computers, which are based on minute wires imprinted on silicon chips in highly ordered patterns. The current pilot version is a 2-millimeter-by-2-millimeter mesh of silver nanowires connected by artificial synapses. Unlike silicon circuitry, with its geometric precision, this device is messy, like "a highly interconnected plate of noodles," Stieg said. And instead of being designed, the fine structure of the UCLA device essentially organized itself out of random chemical and electrical processes.

Reminds me of Mike from Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress!


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday October 08, @10:23PM (5 children)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday October 08, @10:23PM (#579006) Journal

    It's too bad that we're still at the "preliminary experiments" stage. And it still needs to be scaled three dimensionally to take on the human brain. But it sure looks like the correct approach for neuromorphic computing.

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    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by rylyeh on Monday October 09, @01:52AM (4 children)

      by rylyeh (6726) Subscriber Badge <{kadath} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday October 09, @01:52AM (#579053)

      Even though I consider the development of artificial awareness to be a morally repugnant endeavor - this is still really exciting!
      My work is to develop better ways of simulating Alife ecosystems, I'm working with simplified viruses right now.

      --
      don’t tell nobody, but I swar ter Gawd thet picter begun ta make me hungry fer victuals I couldn’t raise nor buy—
      • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Monday October 09, @05:04AM (3 children)

        by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 09, @05:04AM (#579132)

        I'd first assumed your nick was a HP Lovecraft reference, but if you find something morally repugnant, I'm guessing you're the paladin over on Emerald Dream instead =)

        • (Score: 2) by rylyeh on Monday October 09, @06:04AM (2 children)

          by rylyeh (6726) Subscriber Badge <{kadath} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday October 09, @06:04AM (#579151)

          Too old to be playing that one, but thanks for the left-handed compliment!
          IMO Lovecraft was fascinated by repugnant things. Just saying.

          "What they finally found inside Edward’s oddly assorted clothes was mostly liquescent horror. There were bones, too—and a crushed-in skull. Some dental work positively identified the skull as Asenath’s." - The thing on the doorstep. http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/td.aspx [hplovecraft.com]

          As far as games - I've have a patch for jzintv (Mattel Intellivision emulator) that allows use of key maps properly. (I think the maintainers broke it to avoid getting sued - contact me if you know someone who wants this.)

          Also a patch for NeverPutt that allows you to take a mulligan when your ball is 'stuck' on a moving obstacle.
          https://github.com/ericgable/neverball [github.com]

          --
          don’t tell nobody, but I swar ter Gawd thet picter begun ta make me hungry fer victuals I couldn’t raise nor buy—
          • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Monday October 09, @01:39PM (1 child)

            by JNCF (4317) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 09, @01:39PM (#579262) Journal

            I read Lovecraft as rejecting the notion of morality.

            "The human race will disappear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and void, pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Which will also disappear. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure 'Victorian fictions'. Only egotism exists."

            Fascination with the repugnant? Sure. But not fascination with the morally repugnant, as there is no such thing.

            • (Score: 2) by rylyeh on Tuesday October 10, @12:55AM

              by rylyeh (6726) Subscriber Badge <{kadath} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday October 10, @12:55AM (#579525)
              Totally agree! I was referring to my reaction to artificial sentience, hence my use of the word 'repugnant' (As that's creating the Matrix).
               I do think your point about Lovecraft's amoral viewpoint is an astute observation.
                I must say that HP had some really bigoted ideas. I fancy that his worldview would have evolved quite a bit with some age and success. But I can't throw out that baby with the bathwater on this one. The farther back in time we go - often the ideas get more - um - primitive.
              --
              don’t tell nobody, but I swar ter Gawd thet picter begun ta make me hungry fer victuals I couldn’t raise nor buy—
  • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Monday October 09, @03:13AM

    by crafoo (6639) on Monday October 09, @03:13AM (#579092)

    This really seems pretty cool. The silver sulfide layer and the way the wires interact mean that the switching effect becomes stronger the more it is used, for each of the individual connections. This mimics one of the properties of a real neuron. There are so many other mechanisms at play in a real neuron though. It's still a pretty neat step, and I think it's in the right direction. We need to mimic neurons. We need to get messier and less precise. Simulating a brain in a binary state machine seems to be a dead end.

  • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Monday October 09, @07:08PM (1 child)

    by Sulla (5173) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 09, @07:08PM (#579364) Journal

    I hope this means I will be able to get a robot brain to put in a robot body.

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    • (Score: 2) by rylyeh on Tuesday October 10, @01:18AM

      by rylyeh (6726) Subscriber Badge <{kadath} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday October 10, @01:18AM (#579534)

      Fine - but no drive to reproduce or to self-preserve please! Please? PLEESE? Gelfling Friend...

      --
      don’t tell nobody, but I swar ter Gawd thet picter begun ta make me hungry fer victuals I couldn’t raise nor buy—
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