If there is one thing that computer engineers want to achieve, is to make computers work as an ordinary human brain. Such a computer would truly be artificially intelligent (forget the current hyped artificial intelligent robots and gimmicks like Siri). The truly intelligent computers should able to self-learn, be self-aware, and acquire innate knowledge of itself and of the environment it interacts with. But since the actualization of such a computer is some few years into the future, computer engineers have been trying to get the most from what we currently have by shrinking and shrinking the computer chips and loading them with millions upon billions of transistors. What this has caused is that the chips execute trillions of commands with limited breathing space hence they have become prone to over heating.
To cool the over heated chips, a lot of energy is spent in fans and heat sinks. But IBM, also the front runner in the design of neuro-computers, has been working on a concept of cooling the chips using a fluid they have dubbed the electronic blood. Already the engineers at IBM availed a prototype of electronic blood chip according to a report by BBC. The engineers envision that electronic blood would enable a situation whereby a computer that would otherwise occupy a whole football field can fit in today’s laptop size wise. They draw their inspiration from the brain, “The human brain is 10,000 times more dense and efficient than any computer today. That’s possible because it uses only one – extremely efficient – network of capillaries and blood vessels to transport heat and energy – all at the same time”, they said.
A computer running on electronic blood would mean creation of tiny channels that would circulate the blood past electronic components thereby cooling them down. Not only is the blood meant to cool the electronic components, but also to give them the energy. To accomplish supply of energy to the components, the electronic blood would be redox fluid that is pumped to donate electrons to the electronic components. Electrodes fitted along the fluid’s path would draw the electrons and direct them to the components as desired.
The immediate implication of this technique is the possibility of shrinking current computers into the size of a sugar cube. Also, computer chips are currently made on flat surfaces as they require cooling air to be blown onto them. With tiny channels of fluid doing the cooling, the chips can be made in blocks thus utilizing space that currently is considered wasted.
The amount of energy that can be saved with an electronic blood based computer is enormous. By comparison, Science Channel compares the IBM’s Watson, the most intelligent computer to date, with a typical human brain, in the game of Jeopardy that Watson won against man, “each brain used only about 20 Watts, while Watson ate up 84 kilowatts”. That is, the energy used by the machine is 4200 times more, or rather 420 thousand percent more against the energy used by the human brain.