Moore’s law has reached its end, and it’s going to take something different to meet the need for computing that is ever faster, cheaper and more efficient.
As it happens, Kwabena Boahen, a professor of bioengineering and of electrical engineering, has a pretty good idea what that something more is: brain-like, or neuromorphic, computers that are vastly more efficient than the conventional digital computers we’ve grown accustomed to.
While others have built brain-inspired computers, Boahen said, he and his collaborators have developed a five-point prospectus – manifesto might be the better word – for how to build neuromorphic computers that directly mimic in silicon what the brain does in flesh and blood.
Over the last 30 years, Boahen’s lab has actually implemented most of their ideas in physical devices, including Neurogrid, one of the first truly neuromorphic computers.
In another two or three years, Boahen said, he expects they will have designed and built computers implementing all of the prospectus’s five points. That’s not really the point – most personal computers operate nowhere near the limits on conventional chips.
Neuromorphic computers would be most useful in embedded systems that have extremely tight energy requirements, such as very low-power neural implants or on-board computers in autonomous drones.