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Artificial Brains May Be the Best Way to Control Electricity

Researchers attempted to put the brain - or at least its cells - to the task of intelligently managing the country's future power supply

smithsonian.com

Nothing humans have created beats the brain at the type of complex problem-solving that involves logic, creativity and making connections. And to one group of researchers, the brain, with its ability to “monitor, forecast, plan, learn and make decisions,” seemed the obvious choice for controlling a complicated system for producing and meting out energy supplies. They attempted to put the cells of a rodent’s brain to the complicated task of managing the country’s power supply, and the results of their experiments, they hope, could pave the way for smarter control of the energy grid, LiveScience writes.

To begin, the team of neuroscientists and engineers grew rodent neurons in the lab:

The technique involves growing neurons in a dish containing a grid of electrodes that can both stimulate and record activity. The electrodes connect the neuronal network to a computer, allowing two-way communication between the living and the electronic components.

They hoped to capture the physical responses of the neurons and translate them into mathematical equations, as they tinkered with voltage and speed signals sent across a simulated power grid. If successful, LiveScience writes, they could use these data as the basis for a brain-inspired computer code for controlling the power grid, which will likely become ever more complex as energy from renewable sources, including solar and wind, come online.

So far, the researchers report that they managed to teach their neural system, called the Brain2Grid, to respond to complex data, Discover News writes, the first step for designing a super-intelligent—but purely artificial—means for controlling the future grid.

More from Smithsonian.com:

How an Unholy Alliance of Unusual Weather and Scarce Coal Nuked India’s Power Grid 
Can We Ever Stop Worrying About Blackouts? 

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