How to Copy and Paste a Brain

Samsung and Harvard University have published new research that suggests it is possible to develop a brain-inspired memory chip.

In a perspective paper published in Nature Electronics, the researchers from the partnering organisations proposed that the brain’s neuronal connection map could be copied using nanoelectrode array. They specified that the nanoelectrode array could be used to record the electrical signals produced by the large number of neurons found in the brain. The recordings could then be used to inform the neuronal map by indicating where neurons connect with one another and how strong the connections are, the researchers claimed.

Once copied, the neuronal map could then be pasted onto a high-density three-dimensional network of solid-state memory, such as commercial flash memory used in solid-state drives or resistive RAM.

Ultimately, the memory chip would contain traits of the brain, such as low power, facile learning, adaption to environment, autonomy, and cognition, the researchers said. The paper also suggests one possible way to speed up pasting the neuronal map is by directly downloading the map onto a memory chip.

The vision we present is highly ambitious,” Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology fellow Donhee Ham. “But working toward such a heroic goal will push the boundaries of machine intelligence, neuroscience, and semiconductor technology.”

Looking ahead, Samsung plans to continue its research into neuromorphic engineering as part of its development of AI semiconductors.