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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