With all the transhumanist talk about downloading and uploading memories, and the growth of concerns about artificial intelligence, it was bound to happen sooner or later: Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country website is reporting that a biotech company has now constructed a simple computer using artificial neurons, in this article brought to our attention by Mr. V.K.:
The reasoning behind the move is clear:
The 100 billion neurons that make up the average human brain represents more than 40 petaflops of processing power -- roughly 500,000 times the power of a typical iPad -- and is far more energy efficient than our current technology: The world's most powerful supercomputer, China's Tianhe-2, has nearly the processing power of the human brain, but uses 24 megawatts of power, as compared to the mere 10 watts that the human brain requires.
Like all proof-of-concept experiments, the new experiment involves a relatively small amount of such human-machine interfaces:
Koniku's current prototype, dubbed the Koniku Core, is a networked grid of 64 artificial neuron shells, used to support the individual biological neurons that power the chip. The current device is capable of basic computation, and has been used to demonstrate control over a chemical-sensing drone. Agabi says that they expect to be able to miniaturize the tablet-sized device down to the size of a nickel by 2018.
While the 64-neuron prototype is capable of simple functions, he expects that a 500-neuron device could control driverless cars; 10,000 could process real-time imaging in a manner similar to our own eyes; 100,000 neurons could control robotics with integrates senses; and 1 million neurons could produce outright cognition -- a machine that could think for itself.