Computer Chips Modeled After the Human Brain

brain-chip

I dare you to look at contemporary computer chips and not admire their abilities.  The most impressive example may be the realized dream of hand-sized smart-phones, pieces of technology we already tend to take for granted. And yet – with all their condensed might packed into a few square centimetres, those chips are nearing their developmental boundaries.

Try to open your computer case and have a look. Ignore the dust! See all those messy cables inside? Modern computer architecture is crippled by the fact that data has to flow between the different parts of the computer: The CPU (central processing unit), hard-drive, the RAM, the video card, etc. (namely – those green cards that you see inside the computer case). Although tremendous efforts have been made to accelerate those transitions, the data flow between those parts still poses a serious bottleneck on the performance of computers since software commands have to be executed sequentially.

Related Article: Electronic Brain Implants Increase Intelligence

A new study from Boise State University suggests a better solution to the problem: computer chip architecture modeled after the human brain. Instead of a central processing unit overwhelmed by data flow frComputer_Chipom different computer parts, the new architecture will be based on the way the human brain functions. Multiple areas – each one processing it’s own part, contribute together to create the bigger picture. This kind of architecture eliminates the need for the major processing and memory units. Instead of a hard-drive, the RAM, the video-card and most probably the CPU itself, a new kind of universal electronic chip will process and store the data on its own.

According to the principal investigator of the research grant, Elisa Barney Smith,

By mimicking the brain’s billions of interconnections and pattern recognition capabilities, we may ultimately introduce a new paradigm in speed and power, and potentially enable systems that include the ability to learn, adapt and respond to their environment.

Related Article: Newcortex: How Human Memory Works and How We Learn

090713-memristors-01The neural approach is now becoming practical thanks to the on-going development of a new type of resistor: the memristor. Memristors can be tweaked to new resistance levels by applying and removing electric currents. Memristors “remember” the last resistance applied to them even after the power is removed. In simple words – a storage effect appears. An idea first conceived in 1971, for many years memristors puzzled physicist and engineers as a theoretical missing link component until recent developments finally made them practical. Although not yet commercially used, memristors are already taking active parts in research.

Dexter Johnson from The Nanoclast goes into greater detail regarding memristors:

The memristor has been on a rapid development track ever since and has been promised to be commercially available as early as 2014, enabling 10 times greater embedded memory for mobile devices than currently available.

The obsolescence of flash memory at the hands of the latest nanotechnology has been predicted for longer than the commercial introduction of the memristor. But just at the moment it appears it’s going to reach its limits in storage capacity along comes a new way to push its capabilities to new heights, sometimes thanks to a nanomaterial like graphene.

Using memristors, the team hopes to apply algorithms inspired by the interaction between the neural synapses of the human brain. The effect should follow the intricate patterns our brain implements to process and store data.

Related Article: Of Cyborg Monkeys and New Hope for Amputees

Apart from sounding super-cool (in a geek-ish way), this new approach harbors multiple advantages. First – a tremendously increased processing power. Thanks to mother nature (or depending on what you believe), our brain proves to be quite efficient in processing data. The new generation of computers will benefit from that very same system. Second – the new chips will be considerably more power efficient, suggesting they may be used in places where power support is an issue. We may expect an additional decrease in electronic-chip sizes as well.

And lastly… did I already mention that this new architecture sounds super cool?

 

Sources:

http://news.boisestate.edu/update/2013/08/14/research-team-building-a-computer-chip-based-on-the-human-brain/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor

https://twitter.com/thenanoclast

http://www.frogheart.ca/?tag=cif-small-realizing-chip-scale-bio-inspired-spiking-neural-networks-with-monolithically-integrated-nano-scale-memristors

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130814144705.htm

http://www.cbronline.com/news/tech/hardware/microelectronics/researchers-working-on-chip-that-mimics-human-brain-190813

https://wondergressive.com/2013/06/16/of-cyborg-monkeys-and-new-hope-for-amputees/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/06/12/neocortex-how-human-memory-works/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/10/13/electronic-brain-implants-increase-intelligence/

Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill, Gaming of the Future!

Friends, Wondergressivers, Gamers. The future looks very bright for us all! 720p virtual reality bright. Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill are paving the way for exciting future developments in games and virtual reality.

Both Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill started on Kickstarter where the projects were eagerly accepted! The gaming community said YES and the projects exceeded the funding that the companies expected, allowing for the projects to fly into full development. I am getting ahead of myself though, let us explore each individual item before we begin to experience both together!

Related Article: 3D? Let’s Go One More! 4D!

Before we can begin to walk, let us open up our eyes and experience the world around us. Oculus Rift consists of virtual reality goggles that will bring high definition sight to your gamer eyes! Yes,they will open the door to that which we have dreamed of since we first played pong. It is finally coming, the gaming era we have all been waiting for. Although it is still in its beta (testing) stages, and mostly useful to developers, the Oculus Rift can be expected to fully open up the role playing world of Skyrim, enhance your first person shooter sensations when playing Call of Duty, and immerse you in your strategy as you micro manage your troops in Starcraft. Units misbehaving? Get up close and in their face as you dictate new commands. Characters need resurrecting? Finally a way to spot the corpse without trying to click on the pixel stuck between the mountain of characters destroyed in a raid. You know it well WoW players.

While still in development stages, it comes compatible with only a few games and is specifically dedicated to a computer. The price tag is set at $300 which isn’t too steep, but since it is still in developmental stages it may drop or rise depending on demand and how much more it is augmented.

Related Article: Substitutional Reality Helmet

Now that we are used to the light and we understand the world, let us begin crawling. Or rather, let’s skip the crawling and begin walking in virtual reality! Omni Treadmill helps take the virtual reality experience one step further by giving gamers the ability to not only percieve the virtual world, but also the ability to roam in it!

Let us suppose that you are playing a competitive first person shooter. Wouldn’t that shooter become more intense and more fun if you were able to walk and run in the game by the use of your feet rather than by the use of a gamepad? Of course it would! We gamers thrive off of the competitive edge, the rush of the kill streak, the rhythmic pulse of our heartbeats syncing up with the beat of the rat-tat-tat of our semi automatic as we spray and pray our bullets onto incoming bogies. A treadmill to release the intense rush and to fuel the competitive strategic play. Oh what fun!

What’s more, the developers behind this are very gaming community minded! I simply love developers like this. Their goals are to make the gaming world better, to create a new idea that will explode into a million other new ideas. Reference Omni’s motto:

The Omni is the first omni treadmill that is focused on the household consumer and achieves three objectives: being affordable to household consumers, fitting in a living room, and above all, enabling the user to walk freely and naturally, as he or she would in real life.

For $500 you can purchase the Omni Treadmill, packaged with the shoes, the belt, and hardware/software needed, all of which is set to be released March 2014.

For more on Omni, check out the video below! I am sure that this will one day be standing in my living room. I am willing to accumulate much debt for something like this!

 

Related Article: Augmented Reality Blows My Mind – Twice

What endless possibilities, what endless worlds to explore, what endless things to experience. And why not, there is a lot of good that can come from these developments as well! Terminal cancer patients can travel the world in their household, people in wheelchairs can walk again even if only virtually, and most importantly, those disabled may now have a chance to experience the world as others do! Apart from all the different benefits, it still is amazing and super exciting the direction the gaming world is heading in!

Cheers to the future!

Research:
Oculus Rift

Omni Treadmill

Kickstarter

Skyrim

Starcraft 2

Call of Duty

World of Warcraft

Wondergressive: Substitutional Reality Helmet

Wondergressive: 3D? Let’s Go One More! 4D!

Wondergressive: Augmented Reality Blows My Mind – Twice

Robotic Legs Controlled by Your Brain

University of Maryland Brain Cap Technology Tu...

Engineers at Johns Hopkins University have created a set of robotic legs that can be controlled using brain signals.  The legs are controlled through a electronic cap so the technology is non-invasive.

So far, the device is able to recognize when a person wants to walk or stop with 95% accuracy.  All the user has to do is imagine walking or stopping and the legs behave accordingly.  Using EEG signals, paralyzed people throughout the entire world will one day be able to go about their day again with just the effort of a thought.

Research has also made advancements using EEG signals to control a computer cursor and/or drive a wheelchair.

The legs still need to have speed and direction factored into their movement, but this is a few steps in the right direction.

EU Funds Orwellian Plan to Invasively Monitor Public’s Behavior

 

 

In a push to prevent crime, the EU is beginning to implement various invasive techniques that monitor the public physically and virtually.

The name of the project is Project Indect, and its aim is to “develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.”

The EU has increased its budget for fighting crime, terrorism and handling migration by 13.5% in the last 5 years.  Through profiling entire nations, the new collective European police force is “likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple.”

The ‘1984’ style overhaul will even analyze and monitor personal computers and networks. Critics all around the world are calling this the beginning of a ‘European CIA.’

EU Orwellian Plan to Invasively Monitor Public’s Behavior

 

In a push to prevent crime, the EU is beginning to implement various invasive techniques that monitor the public physically and virtually.

The name of the project is Project Indect, and its aim is to

develop computer programmes which act as ‘agents’ to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.

The EU has increased its budget for fighting crime, terrorism and handling migration by 13.5% over the last 6 years.  Through profiling populations of entire nations, the new collective European police force is

likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It  also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple.

The ‘1984′ style overhaul will even analyze and monitor personal computers and networks. Critics all around the world are calling this the beginning of a ‘European CIA.’

 

Sources:

Telegraph: Orwellian Artificial Intelligence

Project Indect

European Union Financial Report

1984 by George Orwell

Computers Improve and Sustain Mind and Memory of the Elderly

 

Researchers at the The University of Western Australia have discovered that using a personal computer decreases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older men by 40%. The findings are part of a study on men’s health and aging that have followed a group of more than 19,000 men since 1996.

The researchers state that “older people should therefore be encouraged to embrace computer technology as long as they understand the dangers of prolonged physical inactivity and the many advantages of a balanced and healthy lifestyle, the authors write.”

Be patient with Grandma and Grandpa the next time they tell you “my Google is broken.”  You’re prolonging their sanity, and what little remains of yours!