Artificial Synapses Could Lead to Smarter AI

Heads up, humanity. Artificial intelligence may be about to get a lot smarter. An international team of scientists has developed a new kind of synthetic synapse for artificial intelligence systems using the neural network model. In artificial neural networks, computing systems are designed to emulate the function of the human brain, with digital neurons and synapses replicating the function of their biological counterparts. In this context, synapses serve as a gateway for neurons, whether synthetic or biological, to pass information and signals to one another. They're the connective tissue in both biological and artificial neural networks. It's estimated that the typical human nervous system contains more than 100 trillion synapses.

While scientists have had remarkable success with artificial neural networks, contemporary AI systems have been stymied by a specific limitation. Until now... US and Chinese researchers have developed a synthetic synapse that can handle both kinds of signals, reconfiguring itself on the fly, according to new research published this week in the journal ACS Nano. Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office. "These new artificial synapses allow the same synapse to be reconfigured into either excitatory or inhibitory modes, which was not previously possible in solid state artificial synaptic devices," said co-author Han Wang, of the University of Southern California.

"This new functional flexibility is important for enabling more complex artificial neural network that can also dynamically reconfigure just like our brain does."

Kemo D. 7
credit: LiveScience

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