Economy, Sci & Tech

Researchers Create Memory Mimicking Brain

Researchers Create Memory Mimicking Brain
Researchers Create Memory Mimicking Brain

Scientists in Australia have developed “long-term” memory, mimicking information processes of the brain.

Researchers at RMIT University’s MicroNano Research Facility have developed an electronic long-term memory cell that can mimic the way the human brain processes information, a first step toward a computer brain, ISNA reports.

The world’s first-ever electronic multi-state memory cell mirrors the brain’s ability to simultaneously process and store multiple strands of information.

The development, recently described in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, brings the researchers closer to imitating the electronic aspects of the human brain. This is a vital step toward creating a bionic brain that researchers could experiment on to potentially lead to a treatment of common neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Hossein Nili, originally from Iran, and lead author of the study, said: “This new discovery is significant as it allows the multi-state cell to store and process information in the very same way that the brain does. If you could replicate a brain outside the body, it would minimize ethical issues involved in treating and experimenting on the brain, which can lead to better understanding of neurological conditions.”

The question therein lies, if a robot is programmed to feel or at the very least mimic the human experience of pain, should we experiment on such a being?

It could mean that we are able to perform a myriad of experiments that could not have any ethical repercussions as we would not be causing pain or distress in an actual, organic, living creature. The experiments could, as Nili has said, be extremely helpful in finding cures to neurological conditions.

This question leads to a very interesting philosophical conundrum: Could a robot actually feel pain the same way that a human does?

The answer is simple: No. Primarily, the physiological reaction would not be the same as in an organic creature. For instance, if the bionic-brained robot were programmed to react to consuming a whole bottle of Tylenol in the same way as humans are, it would not have the exact same reaction to it, physically, as we would. In other words, they could suffer the same amount of pain neurologically, but they would not have the same permanently damaging bodily reactions as humans. Obviously, because it is inorganic, it would not have seizures or spasms as a result of consuming the Tylenol that are going to permanently damage its body.

In addition, the pain that could be programmed would be just as subjective in the bionic brain as it is in humans. For instance, the pain that my sister feels when she is jabbed by a needle would be completely different from the pain my cat or I feel when given the same needle. Hence, the robot’s pain would be subjectively dependent on the human brain that it was modeled after.

On the other hand, what if it behaved like us and were self-aware; would we change our minds about this mind-numbingly interesting conundrum? If the bionic brain were created as a human brain replica, it seems more likely that the brain would be autonomous. It also seems very likely that the brain could be highly reactive to an oppressive environment and would not necessarily be a willing slave to the experiments.

In addition, it would not make sense for the brain to be fit for experimentation unless it were capable of that kind of autonomy. It would not be a replica of a human brain otherwise, but rather a very poor attempt at trying to replicate only the parts that we can electronically understand. This simply does not give us the complete picture of the complex human brain.