My Thoughts Exactly

Don't look now, but in silico brains just got closer

According to this article in Nano Letters, scientists at the University of Michigan have built a memristor — a chip that conserves memory, as neurons do:


A memristor is a two-terminal electronic device whose conductance can be precisely modulated by charge or flux through it. Here we experimentally demonstrate a nanoscale silicon-based memristor device and show that a hybrid system composed of complementary metal−oxide semiconductor neurons and memristor synapses can support important synaptic functions such as spike timing dependent plasticity. Using memristors as synapses in neuromorphic circuits can potentially offer both high connectivity and high density required for efficient computing.

Just in case you missed the implications, the title of their article is Nanoscale Memristor Device as Synapse in Neuromorphic Systems.

I discovered this article from this article in New Scientist (this link may or may not work for you). New Scientist cheerfully calls this memristor the “missing link” on the path towards true electronic brains, and points out that “the military” is already hard at work looking for applications. Gee, this all sounds so exciting! Why am I suddenly feeling very queasy?

Any of y’all others intrigued by implications of nanomachines and brains– and perhaps with a healthy touch of technoparanoia — are encouraged to check out my novels (if you haven’t done so already), especially the critically acclaimed Acts of the Apostles now available in sundry ebook formats!

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General Exception

Will the Internets Become Sentient?

New Scientist has an article that speculates that the Internet could someday become (or perhaps already is) sentient. Although their speculation is that it won’t be in the “launch all the nukes and start building killer bots that look like Arnie” sort of way.

Read More »

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My Thoughts Exactly

Rat Brains Redux!

From an article in New Scientist entitled, I fecal matter you not, “Rise of the rat-brained robots”:

. . . the disembodied neurons are communicating, sending electrical signals to one another just as they do in a living creature. We know this because the network of neurons is connected at the base of the pot to 80 electrodes, and the voltages sparked by the neurons are displayed on a computer screen.

Normally this kind of story is the province of furtive Wetmachiner Gary Gray, but Gary hasn’t posted anything here since his wedding day some months ago. Which could mean anything, just say’n. In the meantime I’ll do my best to assume his wetmachine slack. I’m proud to say I was his Best Man, and the attendant responsibilities last a lifetime, what-what?

And furthermore, long dormant wetmechanics have been known to pop up and chirp, after a long sojourn underground, just like N-year locusts. With Greg resurgent, can Gary be far behind? Or David? Or, yegods, Peg or Christian? My advice? Stay tuned. Rat brains in jars controlling machinery have prortent! I swear I believe it!

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Wetware and Hard Science

Quantum networking, Cambridge style.

Not content with a single bank transaction, The New Scientist is reporting that there’s a quantum cryptography network now running between Harvard and BBN Technologies. The two are connected with 10 Km of fiber optic cable and employ custom servers, making it very expensive. However, BBN is the company that created the use of @, among other things, so I expect the current Qnet will grow, and we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.

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