Intel's new self-learning chip is created to work like a human brain

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It's a future where stoplights automatically adjust their timing to sync with the flow of traffic, reducing gridlock and optimising starts and stops. Robots can also be more autonomous to perform efficiently.

What this means to you: Loihi is one of many new technologies vying to be the future of computing, as Moore's Law loses its momentum. Intel has also recently advanced investments and R&D inartificial intelligence (AI) and neuromorphic computing. We've seen more and more chip generations-including Intel's recent 8th-gen Core chips-manufactured on the same process technology as their predecessors. The combination of chip expertise, physics and biology yielded an environment for new ideas.

A human brain approximately has over 80 billion neurons. The field of study continues to be highly collaborative and supportive of furthering the science.

A new AI chip under development at Intel is taking its inspiration from the human brain in an attempt to overcome technological hurdles. "It takes a novel approach to computing via asynchronous spiking", said Dr Michael Mayberry, MD of Intel Labs. By making use of a similar method, the company believes that Loihi will work towards raising the bar for AI development.

The brain's neural networks relay information with pulses or spikes, strengthening frequent connections and storing the changes locally at synapse interconnections. Intelligent behaviour comes from cooperative and competitive interactions between various regions of the brain's numerous neural networks and the environment within which it operates, says the report. However, unless their training sets have specifically accounted for a particular element, situation or circumstance, these machine learning systems do not generalize well.

As per Intel, AI chips like Loihi have limitless potential benefits.

Mukesh Ambani at IMC 2017
But for the fourth industrial revolution - which involves data - we are well positioned to take advantage of it, he added. He added that mobile internet and cloud computing will be the foundation of the fourth industrial revolution.

Cybersecurity applications are one potential use since any deviation from what Loihi determines to be a normal network state could cause an alert to be issued. The neuromorphic system can then parse the data to determine a "normal" and "abnormal" heartbeat. "The system could be personalized for any user". IBM's DeepNorth brain chip uses 1 million neurons and 256 million synapses, the company said in 2016. This could help computers self-organise and make decisions based on patterns and associations.

With on-chip learning, Loihi can combine training and inference on a single chip.

It can reduce real machine learning time by working locally instead of waiting for an update from the cloud, he wrote, claiming it is also 1,000 times more energy efficient than traditional processors.

What is Intel's Loihi test chip all about? For example, recognising the movement of a auto or bike.

Mayberry said Intel believes its Loihi implementation could be a million times faster than other typical spiking neural nets. It will be shared with leading research institutions and universities that focus on advancing AI. But, just as Intel's chips are processing more in parallel, so are Intel's researchers. Loihi, named after a subsea volcano in Hawaii, consists of 128 computing cores.

For years, Intel spent time and effort exploring the possibilities neuromorphic tech could bring.