driven efforts are focused on using
technologies such as memristors to
emulate synapses. To some extent,
these approaches are seeking to create
general purpose neural systems in anticipation of eventual algorithm use;
but these approaches have had mixed
receptions due to their lack of clear
applications and the current success
of GPUs and analytics-specific accelerators like the TPU. It is reasonable to
expect that new generations of neural
algorithms can drive neuromorphic
architectures going forward, but the
parallel development of new strategies for neural algorithms with new
architecture paradigms is a continual
challenge. Similarly, the acceptance
of more modern neuroscience concepts by the broader machine learning community will likely only occur
when brain-derived approaches demonstrate an advantage that appeared
insurmountable using conventional
approaches (perhaps once the implications of Moore’s Law ending reach
that community); however, once such
an opportunity is realized, the deep
learning community is well-positioned
to take advantage of it.
One implication of the general disconnect between these very different
fields is that few researchers are sufficiently well versed across all of these
critical disciplines to avoid the some-times-detrimental misinterpretation
of knowledge and uncertainty from
one field to another. Questions such
as “Are spikes necessary?” have quite
different meanings to a theoretical
neuroscientist and a deep learning developer. Similarly, few neuroscientists
consider the energy implications of
complex ionic Hodgkin-Huxley dynamics of action potentials, however many
neuromorphic computing studies have
leveraged them in their pursuit of energy efficient computing. Ultimately,
these mismatches demand that new
strategies for bringing 21st century neuroscience expertise into computing be
explored. New generations of scientists
trained in interdisciplinary programs
such as machine learning and computational neuroscience may offer a
long-term solution; but in the interim,
it is critical that researchers on all sides
are open to the considerable progress
made these complex, well-established
domains in which they are not trained.
The author thanks Kris Carlson, Erik
Debenedictis, Felix Wang, and Cookie Santamaria for critical comments
and discussions regarding the manuscript. The authors acknowledge financial support from the DOE Advanced
Simulation and Computing program
and Sandia National Laboratories’
Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program. Sandia National
Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory managed and operated by National
Technology and Engineering Solutions
of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc.,
for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration
under contract DE-NA0003525.
This article describes objective
technical results and analysis. Any
subjective views or opinions that
might be expressed do not necessarily
represent the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or the U.S. Government.
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James B. Aimone ( email@example.com) is Principal
Member of Technical Staff at the Center for Computing
Research, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque,
Copyright held by author/owner.