Microchips Learn to Repair Themselves

Daniel Blokbergen
May 24th 2013

Right now, one of the reasons that robots and other artificially intelligent devices cannot qualify as living beings is their inability to self-repair. However, a recent breakthrough from the Caltech High-Speed Integrated Circuits laboratory have brought us one step closer to the reality of machines that can cure themselves after being damaged.

The engineers have developed a chip that can recalibrate its pathways even after vast swaths are burned out by lasers, so as long as the data caches are not targeted. While typical microchips feature pathways so specialized that a single fault can render the whole circuit impractical, the new chips were able to resiliently “learn” the new pathways, in a similar fashion to what the human brain does when it is injured.

While this is certainly a fascinating step in machine evolution, when compared to actual biological tissue these chips still lack the ability to regenerate over time. Funding of the work by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) should come as no surprise, as it's obvious that the military would be hungry for this new technology. We’ll only have ourselves to blame when the robot we shot down regenerates for a second round of fighting.

Story via Scientific American. Image via Caltech.

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Lisa Mandemaker: Using an artificial womb could lead to more equality between sexes, but also between different family layouts. If men would be able to give birth to children, it would maybe be easier for male same-sex couples to have a child together.

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