|The start of holographic neural nets?
|Thu, 22 Jun 2000 20:29:10 -0700
LONDON (Reuters) - A new electronic circuit can mimic the activity of the
brain and may one day be used to create computers that think more like
humans, scientists said on Wednesday.
The cerebral cortex of the brain, the center of human intelligence, is an
intricate network of neurons that contain unusual feedback loops.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Lucent
Technologies' Bell Labs in New Jersey and the Institute of Neuroinformatics
in Zurich have created an electronic circuit similar to the brain's neural
It consists of artificial neurons that communicate with each other via
synapses, or junctions where they connect, in a system that could lead to
the development of computers that could perform perceptual tasks such as
``Unlike electronic circuits, the neural circuits of the cortex contain many
feedback loops,'' H. Sebastian Seung, of MIT, said in a statement.
``But neuroscientists have found that cortical feedback seems to operate in
a way that is unfamiliar to today's electronic designers. We set out to
mimic this novel mode of operation in an unconventional way.''
The brain processes both analog and digital signals.
When a car approaches, for example, the brain receives information about its
color, size and distance which it processes but the digital component is
still there because the brain makes an either-or decision about whether or
not it is a car.
In a report in the science journal Nature, the researchers explained that
when multiple signals are fed to two artificial neurons, the circuit
responds to one stimulus and suppresses its response to the other.
The scientists also added an inhibitory neuron in their circuit which
controls the signals and keeps feedback in check.
``The electronic world is evolving more and more toward mixed analog-digital
computation as the brain has already done. However, the brain's mixed-signal
circuits combine analog and digital functions in a much more intimate way
than is done in the electronic world,'' said MIT's Rahul Sarpeshkar, who
worked on the project.
There's a war out there, old friend, a world war. And it's not about who's
got the most bullets, it's about who controls the information. What we see
and hear, how we work, what we think, it's all about the information!