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Brains and Computers
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Vraith
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mostly related to the mechanical part, not so much the consciousness part...

http://news.stanford.edu/press-releases/2017/02/20/artificial-synapse-neural-networks/
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Vraith's link, just above:

Quote:
When we learn, electrical signals are sent between neurons in our brain. The most energy is needed the first time a synapse is traversed. Every time afterward, the connection requires less energy. This is how synapses efficiently facilitate both learning something new and remembering what we've learned. The artificial synapse, unlike most other versions of brain-like computing, also fulfills these two tasks simultaneously, and does so with substantial energy savings.

"Deep learning algorithms are very powerful but they rely on processors to calculate and simulate the electrical states and store them somewhere else, which is inefficient in terms of energy and time," said Yoeri van de Burgt, former postdoctoral scholar in the Salleo lab and lead author of the paper. "Instead of simulating a neural network, our work is trying to make a neural network."

The artificial synapse is based off a battery design. It consists of two thin, flexible films with three terminals, connected by an electrolyte of salty water. The device works as a transistor, with one of the terminals controlling the flow of electricity between the other two.

Like a neural path in a brain being reinforced through learning, the researchers program the artificial synapse by discharging and recharging it repeatedly. Through this training, they have been able to predict within 1 percent of uncertainly what voltage will be required to get the synapse to a specific electrical state and, once there, it remains at that state. In other words, unlike a common computer, where you save your work to the hard drive before you turn it off, the artificial synapse can recall its programming without any additional actions or parts.

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Every part of the device is made of inexpensive organic materials. These aren't found in nature but they are largely composed of hydrogen and carbon and are compatible with the brain's chemistry. Cells have been grown on these materials and they have even been used to make artificial pumps for neural transmitters. The voltages applied to train the artificial synapse are also the same as those that move through human neurons.

All this means it's possible that the artificial synapse could communicate with live neurons, leading to improved brain-machine interfaces. The softness and flexibility of the device also lends itself to being used in biological environments. Before any applications to biology, however, the team plans to build an actual array of artificial synapses for further research and testing.


Sounds most encouraging! More energy-efficient, and better for building on what we have learned through superior information storage.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In other words, unlike a common computer, where you save your work to the hard drive before you turn it off, the artificial synapse can recall its programming without any additional actions or parts.


We will be able to manufacture organic computers that are faster and more reliable than devices we have now before we are able to create "artificial" brains. Actually, I guess organic computers would be the in-between step from where we are now to that final position. At the very least, it should help with the process of making those devices we will use to interface our brains with computers directly, a technological leap which I eagerly anticipate.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:


At the very least, it should help with the process of making those devices we will use to interface our brains with computers directly, a technological leap which I eagerly anticipate.


Oh yea! As long as we have unbreakable security, and clean code without back doors.
AND, since we don't want to be JUST better, faster brains:


http://www.technobyte.org/interesting-facts/artificial-muscles-using-textiles/
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly, I doubt we will get unbreakable security or a clean operating system without the possibility of back doors. Even if governments don't insist upon such things being built into the OS for wetware interfaces some really crafty person is going to figure out code which can be uploaded to create a back door similar to the way that one group found a way to break into computers using the USB interfaces (I'll have to find that story again to link it).
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the brain-computer comparison but I don't think I'm using "computer" in the precise sense, I'm thinking more like a hardware tower connected to a monitor with input systems (keyboards, mice, w/e) as well as audio outputs. But then it seems to me that there is a chance that computers are already "conscious," they're already accepting inputs and making a display. They're not self-conscious, though, the display doesn't display unto itself but unto us: so the consciousness of the machines (so far) is not fixed in those things, but in us---computers are conscious because and only when we are (of/through them). (C.f., maybe, Dennett's(sp.?) intentional stance?)
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