The dream of artificial intelligence that would allow a computer to learn, and thus get really smart, has proven to be something of a nightmare so far. That failure has lead biomedical engineer William Ditto and his team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University to look beyond silicon and even beyond light chips. Ditto points out that today’s processors may be a lot faster, but they ” re not a bit smarter than they were 40 years ago. Ditto’s processor is designed with living tissue. The tissue being neurons taken from leeches because they are big, easy to use and they learn quickly. Neurons are able to process images more than a million times faster than the fastest computer (Sincell, 2000).
The present review has two purposes: (a) to enlighten the reader that the quest to build smart computers, microchip engineers look beyond silicon and light to living nerve cells and (b) to suggest that this future technology could be the basis of the next great computer wave. The article being discussed out of Discover magazine states that brains derive tremendous problem solving abilities from two characteristics of their individual cells. First, a neuron can be in any one of thousands of different states, allowing it to store more information that a transistor, which has only two states, on and off (Sincell, 2000).
Second, neurons can choose which other neurons to interact with by rearranging their own synaptic connections. Scientists have developed software that attempts to imitate the brain’s learning process using only the yes-no binary logic of digital computers with all the connections in a personal computer wired back at the factory.
... . RAM Cache is special high-speed circuitry that helps the computer operate faster by temporarily storing frequently accessed or recently accessed data ... of memory, or got a smaller hard drive. Be realistic, smart and shop around. Make sure you know exactly what you ... Intel 386 followed by the Intel 486 processors, where considered state-of-the-art technology. In 1993, Intel introduced their Pentium ...
Breaking a single one of these connections usually crashes the computer. This is not a problem for a neuro computer Ditto says, because dynamic chaotic systems like these naturally self-organize. An example of this would be the human heart. An isolated heart neuron simply sparks chaotically, without apparent intelligence. But when it is a part of the neuronal network in a living heart, it synchronizes with all the other neurons to create a steady heartbeat (Sincell 2000).
The neuro computer would work in a similar way. If a computer programmer posed a problem to a collection of neurons, such as create a regular heartbeat, the neurons would then figure out through trial and error how to rewire their own circuits to produce a steady rhythmic beat. Conclusions The use of neurons as a processor has the potential to change the way a computer functions like never before conceived. This new technology in its latent state could have implications in all aspects of society if and when it reaches fruition.
The limitless possibilities with increased rate of output and support processes justify this research for having the potential of being the basis of the next great computer wave.
Sincell, M. (2000, October).
Neuro computers What’s beyond silicon and fiber optics? Would you believe microprocessors with living brain tissue? Discover, 28-30..