It seems that Artificial Intelligence is going to be widely used in fields that require quick judgement such as controlling factory systems or driving a car. But scientists are turning to human brains as it is expensive to set up artificial intelligence system for everything. The energy burned by a human brain is equivalent of around 20 watts per hour whereas Alpha Go uses up 56 kilowatts per hour. This means human brains are 2,800 times more efficient than machines.
Then how do we recreate human brains? The first answer that pops up in mind would be simulation. It is about utilizing all brain science knowledge out there and implementing it as a virtual reality within a computer. Theoretically, this would create AI that can think autonomously just like humans. As of now, it is not possible to implement this as secrets of human brains have not been fully uncovered and connections of 100 billion brain cells should be considered. But this process could be helpful in understanding human brain structure and how it functions. The EU supports the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne that studies virtual brains.
The simulation method is positive as it would advance brain science, but it is not likely to be used in real life as it requires mass storage computer system. Scientists started to simulate parts of human brain. They are developing brain cell copy chips that copy the way animal brain cells function to apply them in CPUs. It does not copy the entire brain, which is why it does not think autonomously, but it can accelerate learning and processing.
CPU company Intel is leading this research. It showcased a copy chip called Loihi for test in September last year. Loihi is composed of 130,000 electronic circuits that copied brain cells and 130 million synapses (the part that connects neurons). Intel set up an AI program that recognizes hand-written numbers on this system and found out that it learned 1 million times faster than AI using general computers. It is planning to develop AI as smart as small animals by advancing this technology.
The Post-silicon Semiconductor Institute of Korea Institute of Science and Technology is developing a brain cell copy chip equal to Intel’s Loihi and will announce research progresses in the near future.
“Developing next generation AI is becoming easier as brain science research advances,” said Kim Jae-uk, a senior researcher of KIST.