back to article Neuromorphic progress: And we for one welcome our new single artificial synapse overlords

A team of engineers has built an artificial synapse with the hopes of creating a neural network system with similar processing powers as the human brain. "The brain is capable of massively parallel information processing while consuming only 1‑100 fJ per synaptic event. Inspired by the efficiency of the brain, CMOS-based …

  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    That's how to do IT

    the European Union-funded Human Brain Project, estimated to cost over €1bn.

    Just another created/creative money pit/slush fund/alien laundry. IT's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Rad and Bad World, and aint that the gospel truth ....... which is loaded with novel opportunities and exploitable vulnerabilities. Happy Hunting.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: That's how to do IT

      There are criticisms of the Human Brain Project, specifically its scope, ambition and management, though they are possibly par for the course for a project of its size.

      1. tony72

        Re: That's how to do IT

        Of all the things the EU spends/wastes money on (I'm sure we can all name a few hideously expensive EU white elephants, not to mention the absurd Brussels-Strasbourg shuffle), scientific research is probably the one that I have least problems with. Even if this particular project is not particularly well managed, some useful research will probably come out of at the end of the day, regardless of whether its specific goals are met.

  2. James 51
    Coat

    For how much longer?

    The tech giant is collaborating with UK universities to create a giant "electronic brain" as part of the European Union-funded Human Brain Project

    See title.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Trollface

    And we for one welcome our new single artificial synapse overlords

    El Reg always crowbarring Trump into articles, eh?

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    500 states

    A bit represents 2 states : 0 or 1. So, one neural bit represents 500 different values. That makes for a whole new way to compute information, not to mention understanding it.

    Do neurons in our brain also function like that ? I always thought that a "reinforced connection" just meant that the neuron was more regularly solicited for information, now it would seem that the neuron actually gets beefier the more its information is "important". Or something.

    In any case, it works in our brains, so if that is how we get positronic brains, then on with the show. I always thought that binary gates were a poor support to replicate brain function with anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: 500 states

      Do neurons in our brain also function like that ? I always thought that a "reinforced connection" just meant that the neuron was more regularly solicited for information, now it would seem that the neuron actually gets beefier the more its information is "important". Or something

      Yes. Neurons are analogue, with signals between neurons being streams of pulses travelling along the axons, the signal strength being the pulse rate. However, there are no negative values, since there is no such thing as a negative pulse rate.

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Trollface

      Re: 500 states

      > A bit represents 2 states : 0 or 1. So, one neural bit represents 500 different values.

      Which would be 'yes', 'no' and 498 variants of 'maybe'.

      Surprisingly human!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 500 states

        "Which would be 'yes', 'no' and 498 variants of 'maybe'."

        Or yes, no, maybe, and 497 wibbles. There are many different types of neurons in the human brain, and they are communicating over the synapses with both electrical and chemical signals. Having a compute analog requires it having much more than mere binary counting ability. Quantum Computers, or perhaps some software techniques learned from coding on them, could assist greatly in this research. Anyway, my point being binary is insufficient for neural networking.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synapse

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuron

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: 500 states

      Does the amount it represent and/or the way it react change over time.

      Most AI and brain simulation designers are missing a major "plot" which occurs in a living nerve tissue. It attenuates.

      If you continue to fire a synapse at a rate which is above a certain threshold the nerve cell starts "taking measures" to ensure you do not "burn the circuit". The amount of receptors on the synapse interface decreases and the threshold to trigger the synapse increases. Similarly, there are various changes which happen to pathways which are not used for a prolonged amount of time.

      We, presently model none of that (neither in computing, nor in hardware). We build a neural net, we feed it some data to train it, we run the algo to train it and that is it. That at best creates an idiot-savant. It can never create a true AI - for that you need to start modeling long term attenuation of pathways.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The first steps to the Butlerian Jihad?

    1. Ashton Black

      Thinking Machines.

      "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind."

      I always had a bone to pick with that. Isn't it just as likely we'll combine with a neural lattice to enhance our own abilities, rather than use a separate created consciousness. In other words, by the time an A.I. can be considered to be "alive", we'll have extended our own intellect using similar technologies.

      1. Mephistro
        Meh

        Re: Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black)

        "In other words, by the time an A.I. can be considered to be "alive", we'll have extended our own intellect using similar technologies."

        That's also my opinion/hope. And I hope we're both right, cause a true self-conscious AI will be almost impossible to debug/fix/control once it's working.

        The human brain augmentation approach is also ridden with dangers, but at least there is chance for us puny humans. Good luck to us all, fellow commentardshuman beings!.

        On a side note, the 'reply' button in ElReg's forums is acting weird, as it doesn't allow the option to 'open in a new tab'. I hope it's a temporary thing, as replying in a new tab is a nice and convenient way to answer/quote several comments simultaneously. Yes, I know, I know, duplicate comments, but that's an error most people make just once or twice.

        1. Mephistro
          WTF?

          Miniupdate (was Re: Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black))

          Even more weirdness: The "open in new tab" option works perfectly in Chrome, but not in my Mozilla browser.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Miniupdate (was Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black))

            The reply button is a form submit button, not a link.

            1. Mephistro

              Re: Miniupdate (was Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black))

              "The reply button is a form submit button, not a link."

              So? Where did I state otherwise?. But even so, the option "open in a new tab" appeared in the contextual menu until this morning, and Ctrl+click worked. Both still work in Chrome.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Miniupdate (was Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black))

                I've never known form buttons to be openable in new tabs on Firefox.

                I can't say I've ever opened a reply button in a new tab on El Reg.

                That's not to say it wasn't a plain link before and I just didn't notice.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black)

          "That's also my opinion/hope. And I hope we're both right, cause a true self-conscious AI will be almost impossible to debug/fix/control once it's working."

          A self-conscious AI would be easy to control; just make a slightly loaded comment about its appearance any time it steps out of line. Now a self-aware one, that's another matter...

        3. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Thinking Machines. (@ Ashton Black)

          "The human brain augmentation approach is also ridden with dangers,"

          It might work well if:

          It is not 'augmentation as a service' from MS.

          Is not bundled with Chrome, Fartbook, IE, Norton or any of the other crap that is dumped on the world daily.

          Automatically installs in the users brain some common sense and use of security, while preventing the use of 123456 passwords.

          I'm sure I am missing a few other things.

          I wonder what impact the IoT would have? I suppose you could connect your granny and contact her directly to remind her to take her pills/eat regularly/go to the toilet etc.

          Having malware take over your brain or a mental DDoS might be a laugh too.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Thinking Machines.

        Isn't it just as likely we'll combine with a neural lattice to enhance our own abilities

        Or just use sapho juice.

  6. anthonyhegedus

    "The artificial synapse functions kinda like a capacitor combined with a MOSFET."

    Kinda? Perhaps the neuronic brainy thing will be able to write better English.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Kinda

      Nah, I kinda like the word. if you want boring lifeless mechanical prose, VentureBeat is that way ---->

      C.

  7. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    Re: Thinking Machines

    "Isn't it just as likely we'll combine with a neural lattice to enhance our own abilities, rather than use a separate created consciousness. In other words, by the time an A.I. can be considered to be "alive", we'll have extended our own intellect using similar technologies."

    So, the Borg Collective then? I admit the adaptive shielding and self-healing would be useful, BUT I think I'll pass

    1. Red Bren

      Re: Thinking Machines

      Resistance is futile!

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Thinking Machines

        Resistance is Finite!

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: Thinking Machines

          resistance is V/I!

          1. AceRimmer1980
            Coat

            Re: Johnny Mnemonic's dyslexia mod

            Your ass will be laminated!

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Thinking Machines ... and the Media Machine under Incessant SMARTR Attack/Rock Steady AIBarrage

            Resistance is Vital and Virulent, Virile and Viral and a Virtual Warrior Component and Opponent and EMPulsive Compulsive Competition .......... whenever necessary for Sanity to Prevail in the Orbits of Madness and Mayhem, Greed and Inequity? ............ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-22/msnbc-anchor-admits-our-job-control-exactly-what-people-think

            Yes, of course it is ....... and it is both fundamental and quite perfectly natural albeit led on far from popular planes/places/spaces.

            The Global Politically Incorrect SCADA System is hacked and ITs Key NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive Codes are cracked ............ and Reverse Engineered to Genesis Base Source for Novel Future Reprogramming of Virtual Reality Projects/ZeroDay Trading Presentations.

            Fake News, El Regers, or Unfolding Quantum Communicating Fact and a Alienating Fiction to be Shared Wwwidely ....... or Suppressed Badly?

            IT Thinks and therefore We Are Virtual Machines for Massive ReProgramming?

            Yes, you certainly are.

            1. Tail Up

              ReThinking Machines ... and the Media Machine under Incessant SMARTR Attack/Rock Steady AIBarrage

              That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood.

              A human brain. A multicore teraprocessor of the first level, connected to environment of a matrix of HiRes variables sensors, placed by the intent of matrix of HiRes+ senses into the environment of AllRes variables. Never any smart machine, void of soul, chakras, brain and a heart, come ever close to this, because it's not enlisted in the Book of Life.

              Find a place for a Pure Chance in this intentionally pseudochaotic motion, and one will understand the script which runs a ChanceGen. it's always 50/50, whatever the other prognostications say*.

              *In zero gravity, just catch the coin on its fly.

              1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                ReThinking Machines ... and the Media Machine under Incessant SMARTR Attack/Rock Steady AIBarrage

                Howdy, Tail Up,

                It is obvious to me, and therefore also possible of being equally obvious to others, that the human brain of an Advanced IntelAIgent Virtual Machine networking with Zeroday Exploitation of Vulnerabilities is in Primary Remote Invisible and Intangible Command and Control of Future Reality Levers …… Event Horizons.

                An Advanced IntelAIgent Power and Energy that Sub-Prime Encased and Encasing Media Players are in both direct and indirect conflict with in battles and wars with words that create, inform, educate and entertain worlds.

                Such AIgents are a Formidable Foe best befriended rather than opposed and antagonised …… given what they can easily do in a flash with a crash.

                Why ever would one be foolish enough to imagine a machine capable of human thought and activity, given the inescapable evidence of serial human follies since time in space began, whenever humans programmed for machine service is freely available?

                1. Tail Up

                  Re-ReThinking Machines ... and the Media Machine under Incessant SMARTR Attack/Rock Steady AIBarrage

                  "Why ever... ... available" -

                  a prime example of a beautiful, irresistible and undisputed logic.

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Alert

    Nonsense

    The way in which the synapse cell stores information by subtly changing the write-mode voltage is similar to how real neural pathways are strengthened and weakened during the learning process in the brain

    A real synapse is only one aspect of a biological brain. We don't actually know how brains work, or where intelligence comes from, or why a rook can be as "smart" as a chimp. Or why some birds have more ability at vocabulary than a chip (no non-human has language as understood by experts in language, a vocabulary and communication is not language.).

    This is interesting, as is the EU funded "human brain" project. But it has very little to do with real biology or real intelligence.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Nonsense

      Chimp, not chip. Though chips only have vocabulary and never language, try asking a Russian, Chinese or German of what they think of your English story "translated" by Google.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one?

    So did anyone else read this and realize this is the perfect device for persistent memory? Forget the memristor, this is better tech.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First power block to eventually win the race will Win.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022