Sunday, June 18, 2017

Photonic Cognition

Researchers investigate decision-making by physical phenomena
Jun 2017,

The Illusion of Control is a common theme here on Network Address. So every once in a while we see something  about how things inhuman, and things not even alive, are making decisions just like us. This forces us to consider whether "we" make decisions at all.

From the article:

"Decision-making is typically thought of as something done by intelligent living things and, in modern times, computers. But over the past several years, researchers have demonstrated that physical objects such as a metal bar, liquids, and lasers can also "make decisions" by responding to feedback from their environments. And they have shown that, in some cases, physical objects can potentially make decisions faster and more accurately than what both humans and computers are capable of.

"In a new study, a team of researchers from Japan has demonstrated that the ultrafast, chaotic oscillatory dynamics in lasers makes these devices capable of decision making and reinforcement learning, which is one of the major components of machine learning. To the best of the researchers' knowledge, this is the first demonstration of ultrafast photonic decision making or reinforcement learning, and it opens the doors to future research on "photonic intelligence."

"In our demonstration, we utilize the computational power inherent in physical phenomena," coauthor Makoto Naruse at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Tokyo told

[and by the way, when we take this further, like to the inevitable AI overlord conclusion...]

"Such systems provide huge potential for our future intelligence-oriented society. We call such systems 'natural Intelligence' in contrast to artificial intelligence."

"In experiments, the researchers demonstrated that the optimal rate at which laser chaos can make decisions is 1 decision per 50 picoseconds (or about 20 decisions per nanosecond)—a speed that is unachievable by other mechanisms. With this fast speed, decision making based on laser chaos has potential applications in areas such as high-frequency trading, data center infrastructure management, and other high-end uses.

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