The industrial mega-conglomerate Samsung is trying to “copy and paste” the structure of the human brain onto computer chips.

The Korean mega-corporation has partnered with Harvard University to replicate the constitution of the brain in a chip format in the hope that this will allow future chips to access “low power, easy learning, adaptation. to the environment and even autonomy and cognitive capacities “.

According to Samsung: “The brain is made up of a large number of neurons, and their wiring board is responsible for brain functions. So knowing the map is the key to reverse engineering the brain.”

The four names listed for the Samsung-Harvard super-heavyweight team include Harvard professors Donhee Ham and Hongkun Park; Samsung SDS Chairman and CEO Sungwoo Hwang; and VC and CEO of Samsung Electronics, Kinam Kim.

Their “perspective article” – “Neuromorphic electronics based on brain cut-and-paste”, published in Electronic Nature – suggests that by copying the brain’s complex mechanisms and transposing them to Samsung’s memory technology, electronics might be able to mimic some of the brain’s qualities.

“The essence of this vision is to ‘copy’ the functional synaptic connectivity map of a mammalian neural network using advanced neuroscientific tools, then ‘paste’ this map onto a high-density three-dimensional network of Semiconductor memories, and sticking could potentially lead to silicon integrated circuits that better approximate the computational characteristics of the brain, ”the paper said.

The team plans to do this using “a revolutionary nanoelectrode array developed by Dr. Ham and Dr. Park, and pasting that map onto a high-density three-dimensional array of semiconductor memories.”

That’s a pretty big question, as in Samsung’s own words: “Since the human brain has around 100 billion neurons and around a thousand times as many synaptic connections, the ultimate neuromorphic chip will require around 100,000 billion memories. “

This is a “perspective article” and therefore its ideas are somewhat speculative, and Samsung has not disclosed how long it thinks it would take to create such a computer monster (or how big it would be). . But while these are clearly huge numbers, in terms of simple math, they actually don’t exceed the technology we have today.

One hundred trillion bytes is equivalent to 100 terabytes, and while it may be difficult for human replication of neural pathways to be as elegant in execution as natural evolution has managed to come up with, Samsung is clearly in the process. able to deliver such a project with as much high specification memory as it needs.

So it may be that the only thing preventing us from reproducing the human brain, and possibly creating Isaac Asimov’s Multivac supercomputer without it being 800 meters long and three stories high, is whether the Dr Ham and Dr Park’s “nanoelectrode array” is up to the task.

No pressure, eh, guys? ®


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