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Quantum Material Exhibits “Non-Local” Behavior That Mimics Brain Function

New research shows a possible way to improve energy-efficient computing



Credit: Mario Rojas / UC San Diego
Electrical stimuli passed between neighboring electrodes can also affect non-neighboring electrodes.
« Quantum Material Exhibits “Non-Local” Behavior That Mimics Brain Function

Newswise — We often believe computers are more efficient than humans. After all, computers can complete a complex math equation in a moment and can also recall the name of that one actor we keep forgetting. However, human brains can process complicated layers of information quickly, accurately, and with almost no energy input: recognizing a face after only seeing it once or instantly knowing the difference between a mountain and the ocean. These simple human tasks require enormous processing and energy input from computers, and even then, with varying degrees of accuracy.

Creating brain-like computers with minimal energy requirements would revolutionize nearly every aspect of modern life. Funded by the Department of Energy, Quantum Materials for Energy Efficient Neuromorphic Computing (Q-MEEN-C) — a nationwide consortium led by the University of California San Diego — has been at the forefront of this research. 

UC San Diego Assistant Professor of Physics Alex Frañó is co-director of Q-MEEN-C and thinks of the center’s work in phases. In the first phase, he worked closely with President Emeritus of University of California and Professor of Physics Robert Dynes, as well as Rutgers Professor of Engineering Shriram Ramanathan. Together, their teams were successful in finding ways to create or mimic the properties of a single brain element (such as a neuron or synapse) in a quantum material.

Now, in phase two, new research from Q-MEEN-C, published in Nano Letters, shows that electrical stimuli passed between neighboring electrodes can also affect non-neighboring electrodes. Known as non-locality, this discovery is a crucial milestone in the journey toward new types of devices that mimic brain functions known as neuromorphic computing.

“In the brain it’s understood that these non-local interactions are nominal — they happen frequently and with minimal exertion,” stated Frañó, one of the paper’s co-authors. “It’s a crucial part of how the brain operates, but similar behaviors replicated in synthetic materials are scarce.”

Like many research projects now bearing fruit, the idea to test whether non-locality in quantum materials was possible came about during the pandemic. Physical lab spaces were shuttered, so the team ran calculations on arrays that contained multiple devices to mimic the multiple neurons and synapses in the brain. In running these tests, they found that non-locality was theoretically possible.

When labs reopened, they refined this idea further and enlisted UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Associate Professor Duygu Kuzum, whose work in electrical and computer engineering helped them turn a simulation into an actual device.

This involved taking a thin film of nickelate — a “quantum material” ceramic that displays rich electronic properties — inserting hydrogen ions, and then placing a metal conductor on top. A wire is attached to the metal so that an electrical signal can be sent to the nickelate. The signal causes the gel-like hydrogen atoms to move into a certain configuration and when the signal is removed, the new configuration remains.


“This is essentially what a memory looks like,” stated Frañó. “The device remembers that you perturbed the material. Now you can fine tune where those ions go to create pathways that are more conductive and easier for electricity to flow through.” 

Traditionally, creating networks that transport sufficient electricity to power something like a laptop requires complicated circuits with continuous connection points, which is both inefficient and expensive. The design concept from Q-MEEN-C is much simpler because the non-local behavior in the experiment means all the wires in a circuit do not have to be connected to each other. Think of a spider web, where movement in one part can be felt across the entire web.

This is analogous to how the brain learns: not in a linear fashion, but in complex layers. Each piece of learning creates connections in multiple areas of the brain, allowing us to differentiate not just trees from dogs, but an oak tree from a palm tree or a golden retriever from a poodle.

To date, these pattern recognition tasks that the brain executes so beautifully, can only be simulated through computer software. AI programs like ChatGPT and Bard use complex algorithms to mimic brain-based activities like thinking and writing. And they do it really well. But without correspondingly advanced hardware to support it, at some point software will reach its limit.

Frañó is eager for a hardware revolution to parallel the one currently happening with software, and showing that it’s possible to reproduce non-local behavior in a synthetic material inches scientists one step closer. The next step will involve creating more complex arrays with more electrodes in more elaborate configurations.

“This is a very important step forward in our attempts to understand and simulate brain functions,” said Dynes, who is also a co-author. “Showing a system that has non-local interactions leads us further in the direction toward how our brains think. Our brains are, of course, much more complicated than this but a physical system that is capable of learning must be highly interactive and this is a necessary first step. We can now think of longer range coherence in space and time”

“It’s widely understood that in order for this technology to really explode, we need to find ways to improve the hardware — a physical machine that can perform the task in conjunction with the software,” Frañó stated. “The next phase will be one in which we create efficient machines whose physical properties are the ones that are doing the learning. That will give us a new paradigm in the world of artificial intelligence.”


This work is primarily supported by  Quantum Materials for Energy Efficient Neuromorphic Computing, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DE-SC0019273). A full list of funders can be found in the paper acknowledgements.

Journal Link: Nano Letters

Source: University of California San Diego

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Artificial Intelligence

NASA Report: No Evidence of Extraterrestrial Origin for UFOs

NASA’s recent report debunks extraterrestrial claims, finding no evidence linking UFOs to aliens. Discover the scientific findings.



With AI as their companion, the NASA study team intends to develop advanced algorithms capable of discerning patterns, identifying anomalies, and separating genuine UAP sightings from misidentifications or mundane phenomena. These algorithms will be trained on a wealth of data, including sensor data from aircraft, satellites, and ground-based observatories, aiming to unveil the secrets hidden within the cosmic tapestry.

What NASA’s new UFO report says — and what it doesn’t

Additionally, the team plans to collaborate with international partners and engage the scientific community, encouraging the rigorous examination of UAP sightings through a multi-disciplinary approach. By fostering collaboration and sharing data, NASA aspires to cultivate a comprehensive understanding of these enigmatic aerial phenomena.

What does this report mean for the public’s perception of UFOs/UAPs?
The unveiling of NASA’s report serves as a beacon of scientific scrutiny amidst the sea of conjecture that often surrounds UFOs and UAPs. It offers a nuanced perspective, grounded in empirical evidence and systematic investigation. While the report does not present evidence of extraterrestrial origins for these phenomena, it does advocate for a serious and rational examination of UAP sightings.

This newfound transparency from NASA can potentially shift the public’s perception of UFOs/UAPs from sensationalism and speculation toward a more measured and evidence-based discourse. The report encourages open dialogue, scientific inquiry, and the exploration of alternative explanations, ultimately fostering a greater understanding of the mysteries that reside in our celestial realm.

As humanity continues its relentless quest for knowledge and understanding of the universe, NASA’s report stands as a testament to the power of science, reminding us that even in the face of cosmic enigmas, rational investigation remains our most potent tool.

Summary: An independent study team appointed by NASA has not found evidence of extraterrestrial unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs), nor have they found any terrestrial explanations.


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Artificial Intelligence

TIME Reveals Inaugural TIME100 AI List of the World’s Most Influential People in Artificial Intelligence



NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ — Today, TIME reveals the inaugural TIME100 AI, a new list highlighting the 100 most influential people in artificial intelligence.

The 2023 TIME100 AI issue features a worldwide cover with illustrations by Neil Jamieson for TIME, featuring 28 list-makers including Sam Altman of OpenAI, Dario and Daniela Amodei of Anthropic, Demis Hassabis of Google DeepMind, and more from the new list.


Published alongside the TIME100 AI are in-depth profiles and interviews with musician Holly Herndon, co-founder of character.ai Noam Shazeer, world-renowned researcher Geoffrey Hinton, president of Signal Meredith Whittaker, co-founder and chief AGI scientist of Google DeepMind Shane Legg, co-founder and president of OpenAI Greg Brockman, co-founder and chief scientist of OpenAI Ilya Sutskever, co-founder of Schmidt Futures Eric Schmidt, science fiction writer Ted Chiang, policy adviser Alondra Nelson and more.

To assemble the list, TIME’s editors and reporters solicited nominations and recommendations from industry leaders and dozens of expert sources. The result is a list of 100 leaders, pioneers, innovators and thinkers who are shaping today’s AI landscape.

“TIME’s mission is to highlight the people and ideas that are making the world a better, more equitable place,” said TIME Chief Executive Officer Jessica Sibley. “At this critical moment of exceptional growth and advancement in AI, we are proud to reveal the first-ever TIME100 AI list to recognize the individuals leading AI innovation, including those advancing major conversations to promote equity in AI.”

Of the inaugural TIME100 AI list, TIME Editor-in-Chief Sam Jacobs writes: “Reporting on people and influence is what TIME does best. That led us to the TIME100 AI.…This group of 100 individuals is in many ways a map of the relationships and power centers driving the development of AI. They are rivals and regulators, scientists and artists, advocates and executives—the competing and cooperating humans whose insights, desires, and flaws will shape the direction of an increasingly influential technology.” https://bit.ly/3r0lgfH


The 2023 TIME100 AI list features 43 CEOs, founders and co-founders: Elon Musk of xAI, Sam Altman of OpenAI, Andrew Hopkins of Exscientia, Nancy Xu of Moonhub, Kate Kallot of Amini, Pelonomi Moiloa of Lelapa AI, Jack Clark of Anthropic, Raquel Urtasan of Waabi, Aidan Gomez of Cohere and more.

The list features 41 women and nonbinary individuals, including: CEO & co-founder of Humane Intelligence Rumman Chowdhury, cognitive scientist Abeba Birhane, COO of Google DeepMind Lila Ibrahim, General Manager of the Data Center and AI Group at Intel Sandra Rivera, chief AI ethics scientist at Hugging Face Margaret Mitchell, Stanford professor Fei-Fei Li, artist Linda Dounia Rebeiz, artist Kelly McKernan and more.


The youngest individual recognized on the TIME100 AI list is 18-year-old Sneha Revanur, who recently met with the Biden Administration as part of her work leading Encode Justice, a youth-led movement organizing for ethical AI. On the other end is 76-year-old Geoffrey Hinton, who left his position at Google this spring to speak freely about the dangers of the technology he helped bring into existence.

Policy-makers and government officials on this year’s list include: U.S. representatives Anna Eshoo and Ted Lieu, chair of the U.K.’s AI Foundation Model Taskforce Ian Hogarth, Taiwan’s minister of digital affairs Audrey Tang, and the UAE’s minister for artificial intelligence Omar Al Olama.

Scientists, professors, researchers and activists recognized on the list include those focused on AI ethics, bias and safety: president of Future of Life Institute Max Tegmark, professor Emily M. Bender, professor Yoshua Bengio, professor and researcher Kate Crawford, researcher Yi Zeng, computer scientist and artist Joy Buolamwini, labor organizer Richard Mathenge, researcher Inioluwa Deborah Raji, researcher Timnit Gebru, and more.

Rootport, the anonymous author of Japanese manga, who used Midjourney to produce the first completely AI-illustrated Japanese comic.

The list also features creatives interrogating the influence of AI on society or experimenting with the technology including: musician Grimes, science fiction writer Ted ChiangBlack Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski, musician Holly Herndon, artist Linda Dounia Rebeiz, artist Sougwen Chung and more.

See the full TIME100 AI list herehttps://time.com/collection/time100-ai/



Following the publication of the inaugural TIME100 AI list, TIME will host a series of new events that will convene leaders to facilitate meaningful conversations to drive impact with a focus on finding solutions to create a more inclusive future with AI.

TIME will host a series of TIME100 Talks showcasing the foundational role female leadership plays in AI innovation during Dreamforce on September 12-14. Featured speakers include Alondra NelsonFei-Fei Li and Ayanna Howard. 

With presenting partner Meta, TIME will convene the “TIME100 Impact Dinner: Women in AI” to spotlight influential leaders in AI in October. 

TIME will also host a special “TIME100 Talks” on the topic of AI accessibility and responsible AI in November, presented by Intel.

About TIME
TIME is the 100-year-old global media brand that reaches a combined audience of over 120 million around the world through its iconic magazine and digital platforms. With unparalleled access to the world’s most influential people, the trust of consumers and partners globally, and an unrivaled power to convene, TIME’s mission is to tell the essential stories of the people and ideas that shape and improve the world. Today, TIME also includes the Emmy Award®-winning film and television division TIME Studios; a significantly expanded live events business built on the powerful TIME100 and Person of the Year franchises and custom experiences; TIME for Kids, which provides trusted news with a focus on news literacy for kids and valuable resources for teachers and families; the award-winning branded content studio Red Border Studios; an industry-leading web3 division; the website-building platform TIME Sites; the sustainability and climate action platform TIME CO2; the new e-commerce and content platform TIME Stamped, and more. 


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adult relationships

AI and Friendships: Negative Effects of AI-Assisted Messages

AI-assisted messages can harm friendships, leading to dissatisfaction and uncertainty in relationships.



A recent study conducted by Ohio State University suggests that using artificial intelligence (AI) to help write messages to friends may have negative consequences on relationships. The research found that when participants discovered that their friend had used AI assistance or received help from another person to compose a message, they perceived less effort being put into the relationship. This perception not only affected the message itself but also had broader implications. Participants reported feeling less satisfied with their relationships and experienced increased uncertainty about where they stood with their friends.

code projected over woman
Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Interestingly, the study revealed that negative effects were observed even when participants learned that their friend had received assistance from another human. This suggests that people value the personal effort and investment put into maintaining relationships, rather than relying on external aids.

As AI chatbots like ChatGPT gain popularity, the issue of how to use them appropriately becomes more complex. The study involved 208 adults who were instructed to write messages to a fictional friend named Taylor, who then responded with a message that was either AI-assisted, assisted by another person, or solely written by Taylor. Participants who received AI-assisted replies rated them as less appropriate and improper, leading to decreased satisfaction and increased uncertainty about the friendship.

The study’s lead author, Bingjie Liu, emphasizes the importance of sincerity and authenticity in relationships. While most people may not disclose their use of AI to craft messages, Liu suggests that as AI technology becomes more prevalent, individuals may unknowingly question the authenticity of messages, potentially harming relationships.

Ultimately, the study highlights the value of putting in personal effort and avoiding shortcuts in maintaining meaningful connections. Technology should not be used solely for convenience; sincerity and authenticity remain fundamental in fostering strong and fulfilling relationships.

Journal Link: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships


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