Computers were always compared to artificial brains, but now IBM has make this comparation real more than ever. They've managed to make an actual artificial neuron. Artificial neurons behave just like biological neurons.
IBM research center in Zurich created population of 500 of these artificial neurons and used them to simulate a signal transfer similar to how the process works in an organic brain.
According to Ars Technica,
IBM's faux neurons are built out of well-known materials that can scale down to a few nanometers but can still activate with low energy.
Organic neurons have membranes acting as signal gates that take a certain amount of energy to absorb. In the IBM version, that role is taken by a square of Germanium-Antimony-Tellerium (GST), a common ingredient in optical disks. Heat the GST enough and it changes its physical phase, from an amorphous insulator to a crystalline conductor. In other words, signal passes through when the faux membrane is hit with enough electricity to change into its crystal phase, then it resets to its amorphous one.
The bilogical, multipolar neuron
But the scientists needed the artificial neuron to have another characteristic of its organic counterpart: stochiasticity, or some randomness in when signals will fire. IBM says its neurons achieve this because its GST membranes never reset to the same configuration. This lets groups of them unexpectedly accomplish things that they could not if their results were perfectly predictable.
With these neurons, it could be possible for scientists to create computers which are able for parallel processing design of organic brains and apply its style of approach to decision-making and processing sensory information, suggests Ars Technica
As they point out, constructing that kind of a machine is an easy task, but making a suitable software may be a nightmare of the challange.
source - http://arstechnica.co.uk; https://www.engadget.com;