Amazingly, our brains need very little energy.+

The human brain can execute one billion-billion mathematical operations per second, or an exaflop, with just 20 watts of power.

Currently, Australian researchers are constructing the first supercomputer in history capable of simulating networks on this magnitude.

Western Sydney University is developing the supercomputer, called DeepSouth.

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Its capacity of 228 trillion synaptic actions per second, when it goes online next year, will surpass the projected pace of operations in the human brain.

The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of how the brain processes vast volumes of information with such little energy.

Researchers may eventually be able to develop a cyborg brain that is far more powerful than our own if they can figure this out. The research may also fundamentally alter our knowledge of how the brain functions.

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According to André van Schaik, a director of Western Sydney University’s International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems, “our inability to simulate brain-like networks at scale is hampered in our understanding of how brains compute using neurons.”

“Simulating spiking neural networks on standard computers using Graphics Processing Units and multicore Central Processing Units is just too slow and power intensive,” he stated. “Our system will change that.”

Uninvolved in the research, Ralph Etienne-Cummings of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore told New Scientist that DeepSouth will revolutionize the field of brain studies.

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“If you are trying to understand the brain this will be the hardware to do it on,” he stated.

According to Etienne-Cummings, researchers studying neurology and those looking to prototype new technical solutions in the AI field will be the two main groups of researchers interested in the technology.

Aiming to build a machine that can equal the human brain, DeepSouth is only one of several research efforts in this direction.

Several scientists are attempting to solve the same issue by developing “biological computers” that run on real brain cells.


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