AI should Learn a lot from Sea Slug

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By studying sea slugs, researchers have discovered the hallmarks of intelligence that are fundamental to an organism’s survival.

A new discovery in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is inspired by one of the simplest sea creatures in the world: the sea slug. AI is in constant growth and tries to improve and become more efficient. A simple sea slug has helped researchers break new grounds. Researchers at Purdue University, Rutgers University, the University of Georgia, and the Argonne National Laboratory published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. This helped researchers take steps to make AI-powered hardware more efficient, and the researchers suggested that such hardware could be efficient and reliable for applications in areas such as autonomous cars, surgical robots, and social media algorithms.

Shriram Ramanathan, a Purdue professor of materials engineering, told EurekAlert, “Through studying sea slugs, neuroscientists discovered the hallmarks of intelligence that are fundamental to any organism’s survival.”

There are two signs of intelligence in slugs: habituation and awareness; Habituation means normalizing the response to a stimulus over time; However, awareness raising is the opposite; It is the part of intelligence with which an organism reacts strongly to a new stimulus. AI has often struggled to keep up with these seemingly opposing sides of intelligence. It is known as the “stability-plasticity dilemma” among researchers studying brain-inspired computing. AI as we know it today cannot store new information without first rewriting old data, but habituation would allow AI not to store unnecessary data, while awareness would help retain new information, increase stability and to enable plasticity at the same time.

Researchers rely on nickel oxide to mimic this habituation and awareness process. Nickel oxide is known as a quantum material because its properties cannot be explained using the laws of classical physics. This quantum material exhibits an intelligent response that resembles stimuli like a sea. A sea slug shows habituation when it barely retracts its gills when tapping the siphon, but shows sensitivity when it dramatically retracts its gills in response to an electrical shock to its tail.

Nickel oxide mimics this by showing differences in its electrical resistance. The researchers found that repeated exposure of the material to hydrogen gas decreased the change in electrical resistance over time. But when nickel oxide is fed to a new stimulus like ozone, the change in its electrical resistance greatly increases. Researchers change to believe that nickel oxide could enable the construction of AI hardware that, when combined with appropriate software, could make AI more efficient.

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