We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

Brain-Like Computer Chips to Bring Benefits in Security and Energy Consumption

New Zealand Computer Brain Like Functionality Chips
Photo Credit: University of Canterbury

Professor Simon Brown from New Zealand’s University of Canterbury is leading a team that has developed computer chips with brain-like functionality, which could significantly reduce global carbon emissions from computing.

According to a recent press release, brain-like computing could enable “edge computing” and address the ever-increasing energy consumption of computers.

Moreover, it would also significantly reduce the amount of data shared with big Internet companies and reduce global carbon emissions from computing.

About the Research

  • Published recently in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal called Science Advances, the paper proves signals on the chips are remarkably like those that pass through the network of neurons in the brain.
  • This is important for building new kinds of computers because the brain is incredibly good at processing information using very small amounts of energy.
  • The chips are based on self-organisation of nanoparticles, which take advantage of physical principles at unimaginably small scales to make brain-like networks.
  • They are a hundred thousand times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.
  • The components of this new chip are at the atomic level and are so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye or conventional microscopes. They can only be seen in electron microscopes.
  • The research shows that this type of chip really does mimic the signaling behaviour of the brain.
  • The avalanches or cascades of voltage pulses on the chips replicate the avalanches of ‘action potentials’, which are observed in the brain.
  • These are the signals that pass instructions from one ‘neuron’ to another. Therefore, replicating them is an important step towards being able to make computer chips with brain-like functionality.
  • These chips might provide a different kind of artificial intelligence (AI).

Possible Uses

  • By understanding the underlying fundamental physical processes, the team believes they can design these chips and control their behaviour to do things like pattern or image recognition.
  • The key is that processing on-chip, with low power consumption, opens up new applications that are not currently possible.
  • Potential applications of on-chip pattern recognition technology can be found in retinal scans on cell phones, robotics, autonomous vehicles and biomedical devices.
  • The team is conscious of concerns about AI and works with social scientists to understand ethical considerations in tandem with the research.
  • It is possible that by allowing more data processing to take place on cell phones, the technology might by-pass concerns about sharing data with big Internet companies.
  • Avalanches and criticality in self-organised nanoscale networks is co-authored by doctoral students Josh Mallinson, Shota Shirai and Edoardo Galli, and postdoctoral fellows Susant Acharya and Saurabh Bose.
Send this to a friend