According to Guilio Tononi’s theory on consciousness [see What Is The Integrated Information Theory?] as long as systems rely on the same materials and technology, computers will never gain the capacity for learning contextually. Researchers are testing the limits of Tononi’s IIT through the creation of a new microchip that no longer relies on electronics.
This May 2019, researchers from the Munster University have been successful in creating a new microchip that utilizes photons to transfer and process data. The idea resembles DVD technology, wherein phase-change materials rearrange their atoms when triggered by light or heat. Because these materials react so strongly and changes its properties dramatically, researchers see that it can be tweaked to imitate synapses and synaptic connections in the human brain.
Why It Matters
While this new system is still in its testing stage, researchers believe that it is the key to the creation of computers which can process information like the human brain. Whereas traditional computers require separate systems for memory and processing units, optical systems enable new computers to process and store information in one place, which, according to materialist science, is the way the human brain works [see What is Consciousness? to understand why we think this view of the human brain is inaccurate]. This innovation will allow computers overcome material barriers, hence allowing it to process huge amounts of information (much larger than what is currently being processed by traditional computers) at lightning speed. Moreover, when such a hardware is used in conjunction with a “learning” algorithm, it can be used to discover patterns, and create generalizations at even faster rates, hence mimicking the brain’s capacity to make decisions in an instant.
If we only look at the human brain as nothing more than a memory and processing unit, then one can see immediately how this technology can usher in artificial general intelligence (AGI). This means that AGI may no longer take 20 years to make – it could already be here, being tested in laboratories. How are we preparing our societies for its arrival?
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