Every now and then, we are reminded that we are living in the age of fast-tracked change. Recently, it has been proclaimed by the Universities in Sheffield and Sussex that the scientists are occupied by a new task which is to make the world’s first accurate computer simulation of a honey bee’s brain and then to upload the brain into a flying robot.
It would be a great accomplishment of science if the scientists succeed in yielding it. Furthermore, we would be able to save the world with its help. According to the researchers, a robotic insect will be able to enhance or even replace the decreasing population of honey bees. An immense need for these robotic insects is to help pollinating the vital plant life.
You might consider it a sophisticated prank, though a lot of money is being spent on this project. “Green Brain” is the name given to this project. Lately, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council accompanied by donations of hardware from NVIDIA has donated a sum of £1 million ($1,614,700) for this project.
GPU accelerators, the high performance graphical processing units, have been arranged for the scientists working on this project by NVIDIA. They are authorizing the researchers so that they can simulate all the features of the brain of the honey bee by means of massively paralleled desktop PCs. In addition to being an outstanding promotion for NVIDIA, this has enabled the scientists to accomplish their goal economically, since groups of supercomputers are not inexpensive.
You might consider the insects to have simple minds, but in reality insects have exceptionally complicated brains and hence researchers require a lot of computational power.
The scientists are trying to duplicate two complex particular functions in the brain of the honey bee rather than simulating its entire brain, that are; vision and sense of smell. If the researchers succeed in achieving this, they will then upload the replicas into a robotic honey bee which will enable it to work independently.
The scientists mentioned in their proposal, “This is an important further advance over current work on brain models because it is becoming more and clearer that an essential aspect of brain function is that the brain is not acting in isolation but in constant interaction with the body and the environment. This concept of ‘embodiment’ and its consequences for cognition are important insights of modern cognitive science and will become equally important for modern neuroscience.”
Without requiring the series of pre-programmed instructions, the scientists expect the flying robot to be capable of carrying out the basic tasks. For example, while the real honey bees can identify certain types of flowers, the robotic bees should know how to sense gasses and odors.
The scientists are going to work along with Martin Giurfa of Toulouse, an expert in a bee’s brain and behavior. The success of this project would be a much esteemed moment in technological history. First time in history, a robot brain would be able to execute the tasks that were as complicated as the animal being simulated.
In addition to neuroscientific underpinnings of animal cognition, the Green Brain Project can also help us get the picture of artificial intelligence. Along with the National Science Foundation-funded Robobees project from Harvard University, the introduction of a simulated pollinator can also help us find the solution of the decreasing population of honey bees.
In order to compensate for extinctions which are extensive these days, the artificial honey bee may be the first of such robots that could be created for this purpose.