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‘Reverse engineering’ our brains with silicon chips could help us understand consciousness

| | May 10, 2019

The fact that computers “think” very differently than our brains do actually gives them an advantage when it comes to tasks like number crunching, while making them decidedly primitive in other areas, such as understanding human speech or learning from experience. If scientists want to simulate a brain that can match human intelligence, let alone eclipse it, they may have to start with better building blocks—computer chips inspired by our brains.

So-called neuromorphic chips replicate the architecture of the brain—that is, they talk to each other using “neuronal spikes” akin to a neuron’s action potential. This spiking behavior allows the chips to consume very little power and remain power-efficient even when tiled together into very large-scale systems.

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It’s still early days, and truly unlocking the potential of neuromorphic chips will take the combined efforts of theoretical, experimental, and computational neuroscientists, as well as computer scientists and engineers. But the end goal is a grand one—nothing less than figuring out how the components of the brain work together to create thoughts, feelings, and even consciousness.

“It’s one of the most ambitious technological puzzles that we can take on—reverse engineering the brain,” says computer engineer Mike Davies.

Read full, original post: Building a Silicon Brain

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