ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips

U.K. chip designer ARM wants some space inside your head. For its chips.

Doing all that aboard a chip set that’s lodged inside your head raises some very particular challenges—because current implants farm those tasks out to an external computer, where constraints aren't so tight. As ARM's director of health-care technologies, Peter Ferguson, told the BBC: "The challenge is power consumption and the heat that generates." What’s required, he says, is "something ultra-small, ultra-low power."

ARM already has skin in that particular game. Its position as the go-to designer for the chips used in most of the world’s mobile devices has been cemented by the impressive energy efficiency of the chip sets it can create. In your smartphone that means the battery will last longer; in your head it means that things won’t get too hot.

Still, as others have shown, the processing of brain signals is just one computational challenge to solve. Recording neuronal activity in the first place requires a huge amount of computing power. In fact, it’s one of the focuses of the ambitious BRAIN initiative, which was launched by Barack Obama in 2013 to focus on building technologies that could interface effectively with neurons.

A dramatic use of this idea in sf may be found in William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer; I'm thinking about the microsoft:

The counters that fronted the booths displayed hundreds of slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon mounted under oblong transparent bubbles on squares of white cardboard ... Behind [one] counter a boy with a shaven head stared vacantly into space, a dozen spikes of microsoft protruding from the socket behind his ear.

"Larry, you in, man?" She positioned herself in front of him. The boy's eyes focused. He sat up in his chair and pried a bright magenta splinter from his socket with a dirty thumbnail.

Via Technology Review.

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