AI Breakthrough: Machines Now Learning At Speed Of Light

What if machines could process large amounts of data with the same amount of time it takes for light to travel?

That would be awesome, right?

Well, according to a recent breakthrough by researchers from the George Washington University, this is no longer a matter of if.

Speed and Efficiency

In a research paper published by Applied Physics Reviews, researchers revealed that artificial intelligence can now operate using light instead of electricity.

It’s not just for menial tasks, too. In fact, the use of light can be applied to machines performing neural networks -- a branch of artificial intelligence that works to replicate the human brain and its capacity to learn.

In short, this is the branch of AI that teaches machines to learn -- and perform -- tasks without human supervision.

So what if it uses light and not electricity?

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Well, as pointed out by The Independent, the main improvement would be in terms of speed. For so long, processors used for machines to learn are limited by the amount of time it takes to transmit electronic data. 

“When opportunely trained, this can be used for performing interference at the speed of light,” explained Mario Miscuglio, one of the paper’s authors. 

Second, this development bodes well for the efficiency of current AI technologies.

At present, processors consume more power to process higher volumes of data and perform complex operations on them. Basically, greater power is demanded for more intelligent tasks. The opposite is true when photons are used within processing units.

“We found that integrated photonic platforms that integrate efficient optical memory can obtain the same operations as a tensor processing unit, but they consume a fraction of the power and have higher throughput,’ said Miscuglio.

Breakthrough After Breakthrough

This recent development in the continuing quest to develop more powerful and efficient AI comes on the heels of Liverpool scientists creating a scientist robot that can do in days what humans can achieve in years.

According to the Daily Star, this robot can carry out experiments for 21 hours straight without recharging, and can even work in the dark using laser scanning and touch feedback.

Needless to say, these are exciting times for tech innovators and scientists alike.

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July 22, 2020




Rosabell Toledo


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