Adami Lab receives BEACON grant for “Darwin vs. DARPA” project

We are proud to announce that we have been awarded funding from the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action for our “Darwin vs. DARPA” research project.

The highly publicized DARPA project “SyNAPSE” aims at developing neuromorphic machine technology that would ultimately support artificial intelligence, for a project cost to date of $42 million. The design is based on fairly standard neural network technology rendered in hardware, and appears to be difficult to program, with only limited learning capacity. Rather than demonstrate the scalability of a neuromorphic computation paradigm, many expect that this project will instead demonstrate that human design of controllers for complex tasks is impossible. We propose instead to evolve a controller with similar specifications as DARPA’s neuromorphic chip, but using a novel computational framework (stochastic Markov networks) where the connectivity of computational nodes and learning behavior of each gate is evolved with a Genetic Algorithm. We intend to match the performance of DARPA’s chip (recognition of single numerals and playing the computer game “Pong”) within the first 6 months of the project, then move on to successfully evolve a controller for a scaled-down version of the game “Tetris”, using Markov brains where each gate is run on a single core of a GPU. Achieving this project has ramifications that may be felt across the entire AI community, as it would show that evolution beats design, even when the design is based on modern biological principles, and has substantial institutional (DARPA and IBM) as well as financial support behind it. Furthermore, evolution beats design for a fraction of the cost.

Check back regularly to stay up to date on this project. We will be posting updates as we progress.

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  • Adami Lab Schedule

    June  2024