A team of researchers from Japan and Michigan have built a molecular computer whose operation mimics a human brain. The tiny circuit, comprised of organic molecules on a gold substrate, is capable of super-fast concurrent calculations that rival the firing of neurons.
When it comes to multitasking, even the fastest computers are still miles behind the human brain. Neurons only fire about a thousand times per second -- way slower than the petaflops achieved by today's fastest digital processors -- yet people are still smarter than computers.
"I can see you, recognize you, talk with you, and hear someone walking by in the hallway almost instantaneously, a Herculean task for even the fastest computer," physicist Ranjit Pati of Michigan Technological University says in a press release.
This is because digital computers process information sequentially, while the brain is a tangled web. Electrical impulses in the brain follow complex neurological networks involving several concurrent operations; computers can't do that.
To make a smarter computer, Pati and his colleagues used an organic molecule called DDQ, which is made of nitrogen, oxygen, chlorine and carbon. It can switch among four conducting states -- 0, 1, 2 and 3 -- compared to the binary switches, 0 and 1, used by digital computers. The neat part is, approximately 300 molecules talk with each other at a time during information processing," Pati says. "We have mimicked how neurons behave in the brain."
The organic processor is intelligent and self-healing. It can solve several problems on the same grid, and if there's a defect, it heals itself. Similarly, the brain also solves several problems at once, and if one neuron dies, another neuron takes over its job. The organic processor can provide answers for problems that can't be solved by existing computers. There are no known algorithms for predicting natural disasters and disease outbreaks, for instance, Michigan Tech says in the press release. To prove the processor's capabilities, the team mimicked two natural phenomena in the molecular layer: heat diffusion and the evolution of cancer cells.
The circuit's patterns even look like a brain at work -- the scanning tunneling microscope images look creepily similar to MRI images of the human brain. With breakthroughs like this, it may only be a matter of time before the Singularity.
Can't wait to see how this technology progresses! Very exciting stuff.
Very exciting. This will lead to extremely powerful technology.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. We are the first species to not only engineer our obsolescence and demise but also find ways to do so in multiple ways. (and be enthusiastic about it)
A couple of nitpicks about the article. First, it claims that computers can't perform multiple operations concurrently. Actually, every computer sold today can do this. It's just that today's (consumer) computers can do at most a few tens of operations at once, while the brain can probably do many millions or even billions of equivalent operations. (Moreover, today's *software* is still largely sequential, due to the technical difficulty of *writing* programs that operate concurrently.)
Second, I don't think "The organic processor can provide answers for problems that can't be solved by existing computers" is true. Parallel computers can solve certain kinds of problems far more efficiently than sequential computers, but anything that is computable at all can be done by a sequential computer if you give it enough time. It would be more accurate to say that the organic processor could solve some problems much more quickly and cheaply than a typical electronic computer.
The claim that this is 'intelligent' is pretty massive - there's actually very little information in this article about what this actually is.
Which problems has it solved that computers cannot?
"I, for one, welcome our DDQ overlords."
But seriously, there are vast problem spaces this technology can solve where our existing sequential computational technology and algorithms fail.
The classic and easy problems to research have to do with routing and optimization problems. These are driven by Operations Research and other disciplines where serious dollars can be saved over large populations. Transportation is a great, and highly visible example in the push to save energy and the environment.
But equally interesting are problems in biological systems, problems where more than one domain are involved, physics, etc.
This is one of many exciting developments to be sure, but the best thing to remember is this... once an "aha!" moment like this is publicized, others can get great ideas to use similar, untried techniques. These guys don't have to be successful, the success may come just from opening a new field of research.
Imagine a mash-up of this technology with artificial neural network technology, which has been studied since the 50's. Or imagine a mash-up of this technology with new nano-technologies involving vast, low power memories. Even if these structures are not "smart", they could be damn useful if they just "remember" and "recall" any fact we want from a massive, semantically linked data store. THAT would be cool, and it really would not take a big leap from here, since much of the parallel research has already been done.
hmm? skynet? What? terminator apocalypse?
ben anlamaz met konulardan www.devabitkiselurun.com
The Sixth Sense - New GROUNDBREAKING Book in 2012! The Sixth Sense leads to Enlightenment
DNA Healing Code - Hardwired in ALL Humans
As an example of what I mean by “Groundbreaking” info that can be found in the 2012 release of my new book on The Sixth Sense (not yet titled )…..
There is a sequence required to communicate with Infinite Intelligence – to gain insight and/or much more complicated yet achievable, HolisticDNA Energy Healing. The sequence required is on multiple simultaneous levels, not just “step by step” like an instruction manual for assembling a piece of furniture.
The “Key” sequence has to do with applying known facts, beliefs, emotions and faith (not religious) – if not applied exactly as detailed, the Sixth Sense will remain dormant, and not be “activated”. As an example:
in theory --
you won’t find this in any existing text, which is why The Sixth Sense is so rarely utilized and hard to confirm. This will allow the Scientific Community to experiment and confirm my claims — remember, just a few decades ago, it was impossible to have a Man walk on the moon. Time for the next impossible to be challenged and confirmed — real
Steve Meyer HolisticDNA