Human brain structure inspires artificial intelligence – Technology & Science

The human brain is the most powerful supercomputer on Earth, and now researchers from the University of Southern California are taking inspiration from the structure of the human brain to make better artificial intelligence systems.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (or AI) is a system of computing that aims to mimic the power of the human brain. We have more than 100 trillion neurons, or electrically conducting cells in our brain, that give us the incredible computing power for which we are known. Computers can do things like multiply 134,341 by 989,999 really well, but they can’t do things like recognize human faces or learn or change their understanding of the world. At least not yet, and that’s the goal of AI: to devise a computer system that can learn, process images and otherwise be human-like.

Why do we want a computer that is human-like?

Very good question!  Part of this answer is: why not? AI is the holy grail for computer scientists who want to make a computer as powerful as the human brain. Basically, they want to create a computer that doesn’t need to be programmed with all the variables because it can learn them just like our brain does.

A six-foot-tall, 300-pound Valkyrie robot is seen at University of Massachusetts-Lowell’s robotics center in Lowell, Mass. “Val,” one of four sister robots built by NASA, could be the vanguard for the colonization of Mars by helping to set up a habitat for future human explorers. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Another reason scientists are interested in AI is that it could be used for things like surveillance and face recognition, and having computer systems that can learn new terrain or solve a new problem somewhat autonomously, which, in certain situations, could be very beneficial.

Why is it so hard to mimic the human brain?

In order to fully mimic the power of our own cognitive capacity, we have to first  understand how the brain works, which is a feat in and of itself. We have to re-engineer and re-envision the computer to be completely different from hardware to software and everything in between, and the reason we have to do this has to do with how our brains are powered.

“If we compare, for example, our brain to the super computers we have today, they run on megawatts, [which is] a huge amount of power that’s equivalent to a few hundred households, while our brain only relies on water and sandwiches to function,” said artificial…

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