A team of international scientists, at Tomsk State University in Russia, has taken a next step in the development of artificial intelligence by creating a "brain" that is able to educate itself. The prototype has the shape of an electronic device and is based on computer and mathematical models of the human brain.
Perceptrons, which can be seen as mathematical models of biological neurons, allow it to process different kinds of sensory information, such as sound and video.
On top of this, the artificial brain is also capable of turning this information into life experience. By reacting in different ways to stimuli (e.g. it can turn away from a light source) and remembering the effect of this action, it is able to reapply behavior with a positive outcome the next time a similar situation occurs. Like humans, the prototype can also forget, as existing neurons degenerate over time and make place for the creation of new neurons.
The main developer, Vladimir Shumilov, describes the prototype as a major step in the creation of an artificial brain that lives up to the capacity of a biological brain, yet he admits there is still a huge amount of work to do. The project will be developed further with the collaboration of biologists and psychologists. One major application is seen in healthcare, where the artificial brain could be used for modelling various dementias and help choosing methods of drug treatments. It also shows big potential in other fields, such as robotic systems.