A Blueprint for an Optoelectronic ‘Brain’

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Building a computer that can support artificial intelligence at the scale and complexity of the human brain will be a colossal engineering effort. Now researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have outlined how they think we’ll get there. How, when, and whether we’ll ever create machines that can match our cognitive capabilities is a topic of heated debate among both computer scientists and philosophers. One of the most contentious questions is the extent to which the solution needs to mirror our best example of intelligence so far: the human brain. Rapid advances in AI powered by deep neural networks—which despite their name operate very differently than the brain—have convinced many that we may be able to achieve “artificial general intelligence” without mimicking the brain’s hardware or software. Others...