Do Neurons Count?
It is necessary to note that such “neural computers” do not execute typical machine instructions of digital computers, unless they are made to emulate the behavior of physical neural networks.
In principle, the basic processing operation performed by every processing element is an analog operation, or transformation of its input signals
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I remember Julia reporting about that, but I’m not entirely clear on how that is connected to this and neuromorphic computing
OK, so think of old-fashioned scales: the bigger the weight, the more the needle moves, right? 😊
Sure, but is that a computation?
If you think about it: yes it is ! 😊
It is certainly information processing: it converts one magnitude into another. Or take a thermostat
Ah, yes, I know that it is the favorite example of some cognitive scientists for information processing 😄
There you go: temperature acts on a sensor which then does something, like turning on the heating.
How do you think the human body does that?
You do have a point there … I suppose that at a very basic level they work the same
That is indeed my point: you need to understand the basic level before you can appreciate what large nets of neurons can do and why that is and isn’t something special
Fine! It’s OK, 😊
I think we can get the readers on board with this, if indeed it is going somewhere more or less familiar or expected.
Sure, we all know where this is going to go, but if you don’t see why one neuron already computes, then a neural network will just seem like voodoo
So we have very simple systems in our body, which are similar to simple analog computers, and therefore we can speak of neuromorphic computing?
Yes, because those simple analog computers and circuits are the basic building blocks for the much more complex artificial neural networks
Alright then! It is good to make that connection very explicit …
Certainly. The main point is that most computations aren’t like doing math on a blackboard, but so to say implicit
So while you are moving your arm to hit the tennis ball and the sunflower is tracking the sun, they’re not “crunching numbers” as such, you mean?
Exactly, but it is still computation and it is part of a causal chain that makes stuff happen. There’s definitely rules being followed
I think an example would be very helpful here …
Ok, think about steam engines: they had these big metal balls mounted on a valve. The faster they turned, the more they closed the valve (Centrifugal governor)
in effect they continuously monitored and regulated the pressure. These were called “governors” and the example works exactly like the case of the thermostat
Oh, wow, that’s so cool! 🤭
I never realized what those rotating ball thingies were meant to do!
You can totally compare them to neurons too: as soon as a some impulse exceeds a threshold, it elicits a response (Artificial neuron)
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As far as AI can see
The case of the use of the abacus by Japanese school children and adults … tool’s use becomes incorporated into a culture-specific technology
All aboard the Spike Train!
The experimental results from neurobiology have lead to the investigation of a third generation of neural network models which …
The Network is the Message
A continued stimulus, such as a state of tension, a light or a sound, produces a continued passage of sensory impulses to the central nervous system.