It goes without saying that the human brain is complex, and would be hard to build from scratch. But researchers are looking to simulate how the brain works so that more human-like artificial intelligence can be created and we can better understand damage to our own brains.
Chris Eliasmith of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, led research published in the journal Science on a brain model called SPAUN – the Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network.
SPAUN lives inside a computer, can view images with a camera-like eye and can draw responses to questions. For example, show it the number "4" and it will write its own "4." It can even mimic the style of the numeral.
Both in the brain and in SPAUN, neurons communicate by changing their voltages, and the pattern of these voltage "spikes" is what carries information from one cell to another, Eliasmith said. The receiving cell generates a voltage of its own if it receives a particular voltage.
SPAUN has 2.5 million spiking neurons. Neurons are the cells – the individual components – that make up the brain. The human brain has about 100 billion neurons, so there’s still a long way to go in terms of replicating its full capacity.
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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education