Future Computers Will Process and Remember Info at the Same Time, Functioning More Like Real Brains

Brain-Like Computers

As much as it might seem like our computers are “thinking” as they perform human-like tasks, like recognizing our faces and predicting what we might say next, they don’t actually function like the human brain — at least not yet. Researchers at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering have developed a device known as the “memtransistor,” which performs both memory and information processing functions. This makes it remarkably similar to a neuron and unlike a computer, which can only complete these processes separately. The team’s work was recently published in the journal Nature.

An artist's depiction of the memtransistor, which looks something like a gray square computer chip, in between two halves of a "brain." Image Credit: Hersam Research Group
An artist’s depiction of the memtransistor in between two halves of a “brain.” Image Credit: Hersam Research Group

The memtransistor is essentially a combination of a memristor and a transistor. Memristors, or memory resistors, remember the voltage that has been applied to them but can only control a single voltage channel. By transforming such a memristor from a two-terminal to a three-terminal device in the memtransistor, the Northwestern team made this tech much more capable for complex circuits and systems.

Developing an efficient, working neural network that operates like the memtransistor would not only be more brain-like; it might also use less energy than digital computers, as it would eliminate the need to run two separate processes.

Transforming Tech

Study leader Mark C. Hersam clarified in a press release why the abilities of the memtransistor allow it to be more brain-like and effective, explaining: “…in the brain, we don’t usually have one neuron connected to only one other neuron. Instead, one neuron is connected to multiple other neurons to form a network. Our device structure allows multiple contacts, which is similar to the multiple synapses in neurons.”

The researchers believe that it will be relatively simple to scale up this technology for larger, practical use.

“Making dozens of devices, as we have done in our paper, is different than making a billion, which is done with conventional transistor technology today,” Hersam qualified. However, he added that: “Thus far, we do not see any fundamental barriers that will prevent further scale up of our approach.”

Whether this scale-up will actually take place is yet to be seen. But such technology could make the computers and smart devices that we interface with every day smarter and more capable, and even perhaps make them start to feel more organic and even human. It could also allow neural networks to advance and perhaps make futuristic tech like brain-computer interfaces much more possible.

The post Future Computers Will Process and Remember Info at the Same Time, Functioning More Like Real Brains appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple’s AirPower said to be released next month, pricing info still unclear

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Google Maps for iOS Gains Quick-Access Traffic, Transit, and Local Info Tabs

Google has updated its iOS Maps app with three new quick-access options that Android users have had access to for over a year now. The new tabs sit across the bottom of the home screen and are called Explore, Driving, and Transit.

Swiping up on the shortcuts reveals further details. For example, in Explore users can find a description of the local area, dining choices, and options to search for gas stations, ATMs, convenience stores, drug stores, and other amenities.

The driving tab provides a traffic summary for the area, including information on possible delays that might add time onto a commute. This tab will also include current ETAs for the user’s home and work addresses if they are saved in the app’s settings. Finally, the transit tab offers estimated bus and train schedules at stations in the vicinity.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Google Maps for iOS gains quick access tabs with info on nearby locations, traffic, and transit

Google Maps iOS explore tab

Apple Maps has definitely improved in the years since its launch, but many iOS users still rely on Google Maps to help them get around. Today Google announced a new feature for those folks.

Google is now rolling out a new section in Google Maps for iOS that’ll help you get more info about what’s around you. Swipe up from the bottom of the app and you’ll see three tabs — the explore tab, the driving tab, and the transit tab — that’ll help you do things like find a meal nearby or catch a bus.

This feature rolled out on Google Maps for Android last year, and it’s good to see it coming to iOS as well. With it, you can quickly find info about what’s around you, including restaurants and traffic, without having to tap on a bunch of places or change to a different part of Google Maps.

If you use Google Maps for iOS, keep an eye out for this feature the next time you load up the app.

Google Maps iOS traffic, transit tabs

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