Brain-like computers a step closer thanks to breakthrough at University of Twente

A new type of molecular switches that learn from previously shown behaviour has been developed by a team of international researchers at the University of Twente. "These molecules learn in the same way as our brains do," says Prof Dr Christian Nijhuis, who leads the research group at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology.

Data centres, computers and other electronics use large amounts of energy. To meet the energy demand for these, we build wind farms. But because of the breakthrough, attention can now also be focused on making electronics more efficient. "Our brains are the most efficient computers we know," explains Nijhuis. "They use ten thousand times less energy than the most economical computers."

Brain is more efficient

Nijhuis: "Our brains process the information from millions of nerve cells from all our senses without any problems. In doing so, unlike traditional electronics, it only uses the brain cells and synapses that pulses pass through". Because energy is only consumed during a pulse, our brains process a lot of data more efficiently. 

The molecules Nijhuis and his team developed make deep learning possible. This is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) aimed at building systems that learn from processed data or use it to perform better. In this case, it is based on artificial neural networks and is widely used in automatic recognition of images and speech, as well as in the search for new drugs, for example. "All things that are much more difficult for a computer than for our brain," says Nijhuis. 

What this development brings

Researchers are always making great strides in the field of artificial intelligence software, but the development of these molecules is now bringing artificial intelligence hardware closer. The breakthrough enables the development of a new range of adaptable and reconfigurable systems. These may lead to new multifunctional adaptive systems that simplify artificial neural networks. Nijhuis: "By doing so, we drastically reduce the energy consumption of our electronics." Multifunctional molecules that are also light-sensitive or detect other molecules may lead to new types of neural networks or sensors.

Date: 29 November 2022 |

Source of tekst: University of Twente |



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