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China’s brain-inspired computing team explores uncharted AI territory




In a lab of the Department of Precision Instruments, Tsinghua University, a group of cameras recorded fast-changing pictures on a flat panel display. A nearby buzzing server was running a program to recognize the images.

“This is our brain-inspired computer running a fast visual recognition program. This computer is a system application formed by TianJic chips,” introduced Prof. Shi Luping, director of the Center for Brain-Inspired Computing Research.

The TianJic chip featured on the front cover of the journal Nature in August 2019. It is the world’s first heterogeneous fusion brain-inspired computing chip that supports both neuroscience-based pulse neural networks and computer science-based artificial neural networks and was rated as one of the top 10 sci-tech achievements in China in 2019.

In a corner of the lab stood a black bicycle, with a computer case on its rear rack. The TianJic-mounted bicycle can maintain balance, avoid obstacles, track a target, recognize voice commands and make decisions all by itself.

Shi returned from overseas to join Tsinghua University in 2013, focusing on brain-inspired computing. In 2014, Tsinghua University set up the Center for Brain-Inspired Computing Research based on seven departments including the Department of Precision Instruments.

As the director of the center, Shi began to explore the uncharted territory of artificial intelligence (AI) with an interdisciplinary team formed by researchers from the fields of brain science, computing, microelectronics, electronics, precision instruments, automation and materials.

“There is no existing theory, direction or path for brain-inspired computing. You have to start from scratch. But it is also an opportunity, because the exploration of uncharted territory has the potential to bring breakthroughs in key scientific and technological fields.”

According to Shi, the research and application of AI have made great progress, but at present most AI solutions are aimed at specific scenarios.

“With one solution for only one scenario, it is narrow AI. It will be challenged when dealing with uncertain and dynamic complex problems without sufficient data. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to develop general AI with human intelligence characteristics,” he said.

At present, there are two mainstream approaches to general AI research. One is from the perspective of computer science, based on the Von Neumann computer, artificial neural networks and the deep learning method.

The other is from the perspective of brain science research, using nano-scale devices to simulate the information processing characteristics of biological neurons and synapses, based on the non-Von Neumann architecture neural morphological chips and pulse neural networks.

Brain-inspired computing is a new computing technology based on neuromorphic engineering, using basic principles of brain science for the development of general AI. The research of brain-inspired computing is still in the initial stage, and there are no recognized technical standards in the world, he added.

When studying the earlier papers of Alan Turing and Von Neumann, Shi found that they began their research with the goal of achieving general AI. Limited by the hardware development at that time, however, their research chose to provide one solution for one scenario.

“However, with the development of advanced precision instruments, we have more and more understanding of the brain, which will usher in breakthroughs in brain science,” he said.

The development of supercomputers provides a better simulation environment for brain-like computing, while big data and cloud computing provide a “digital universe” whose complexity is getting closer to that of the brain. The brain and the digital universe can be regarded as mirror images, learning from each other and promoting mutual understanding.

Meanwhile, new nanotechnology could create devices that use as much energy as human neurons, paving the way for brain-inspired computing.

“Silicon and carbon are very similar in terms of their elemental properties. The human brain has realized general intelligence on the basis of carbon, so we have reason to believe that general intelligence can also be realized on the basis of silicon.”

Shi led the team to develop a complete brain-inspired computing platform from theory, chips, software to systems and applications, which is still being updated. The TianJic chip has been developed for generations, and the world’s first brain-inspired commercial chip has also hit the market with many different applications.

“In recent years, Tsinghua University has made innovative achievements in theory, chips and devices in the field of brain-inspired computing, reaching the frontier of the global research community,” said Shi.

Ma Songchen, a PhD student in charge of the chip system at the center, said the team had taken into consideration the fact that the production process can be handled by domestic manufacturers. The chip can achieve excellent computing power based on the current domestic manufacturing level, which is also one of the potential advantages of brain-inspired computing.

Before his PhD work in the center, Ma thought that scientific research meant doing whatever his supervisor assigned, without considering cooperation with other researchers or potential combinations with other fields.

“But in this team formed by multidisciplinary experts, everyone should think from the perspective of the whole team to solve problems,” Ma said. “For example, when I design chips, I must consider the needs of software and systems.”

“Whether it is the cooperation between departments or the work within the team, we support each other, share achievements and make progress together for a big goal,” said Shi.

“The focus of our research is not only chips, systems and software, but also the trend and direction of the future of humanity. I believe China can make even greater contributions,” he said.

by Xinhua writers Wang Chenxi and Zhao Xinhu

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Uthuru Thila Falhu to reduce imports, ensure food security: Minister Saeed





Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mohamed Saeed has emphasised the government’s endeavor to enhance food security through the Uthuru Thila Falhu project, aiming to curtail imports.

In an interview with a private media outlet, Minister Saeed underscored the significance of locally sourced products in ensuring food security for citizens. He also highlighted plans for island-level production.

Additionally, Minister Saeed outlined a upcoming initiative set to launch in Uthuru Thila Falhu, focusing on bolstering food security by cultivating ample fruits, vegetables, and seafood to cater to both resorts and residential areas across the nation. He said that the project aligns with President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s vision for the country, aiming to transform Uthuru Thila Falhu into a pivotal food hub.

Furthermore, Minister Saeed disclosed that the Maldives Industrial Development Free Zone has entrusted the China Harbour Engineering Company with reclaiming land and establishing an agricultural zone in Uthuru Thila Falhu. The project includes the creation of a specialized agricultural zone serving as a pivotal distribution center for agricultural products and inputs.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Six independent MP-elects sign with PNC





Six independent candidates who were elected to the Parliament in the recent elections have signed with the main ruling People’s National Congress (PNC).

In the parliamentary elections held on Sunday, PNC had endorsed several independent candidates over those contesting on the party’s ticket.

A spokesperson from the PNC confirmed on Wednesday that six independent candidates have signed with the party.

All six joined PNC on Tuesday.

They are:

  • Dr. Anara Naeem: Huraa constituency
  • Hassan Zareer: Mathiveri constituency
  • Ahmed Zameer: Central Machangolhi constituency
  • Ahmed Riyaz: Thimarafushi constituency
  • Yaseen Abdulla: Naifaru constituency
  • Azim Abdul Azeez: Vilingili constituency

The PNC had secured a landslide victory in Sunday’s elections; winning 66 out of 93 seats. With the six MP-elects who signed on Tuesday, the ruling party will have 72 seats in the next parliamentary assembly.

This does not take into account the candidates from other parties backed by the government; Maldives National Party (MNP)’s leader Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim, Maldives Development Alliance (MDA)’s leader Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, and Mohamed Abbas – a political from MDA who won the Velidhoo seat.

The MP-elects who signed with PNC on Tuesday includes former party members who lost the PNC primaries held in January. They later ran in the elections as independent candidates, with the government backing their candidacy over that of the ruling party’s own candidates.

This includes Zameer and Ahmed Riyaz. Their rival PNC candidates had later dropped out of the race and backed their candidacy.

Meanwhile, Hassan Zareer, the incumbent Mathiveri MP, had won the 2019 elections on a ticket from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). But he, along with 13 other lawmakers from MDP, defected to PNC after MDP’s Ibrahim Mohamed Solih lost re-election.

In this year’s polls, Zareer ran for re-election as an independent candidate, but with the government’s backing.

The move by the six independent MP-elects to join PNC comes after the MDP-majority Parliament passed an anti-defection bill on April 1.

The bill, which stipulates that parliamentarians will lose their seat for floor crossing, was signed into law by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu last week.

Meanwhile, a separate bill to include anti-defection provisions in the constitution is in the works in the Parliament.

The 20th parliamentary assembly will be sworn in on May 28.


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Abdul Raheem express confidence in retaining majority of Parliament





Special Advisor to the President Abdul Raheem Abdulla has expressed confidence that the newly elected Parliament will be retained. The remarks were made during a programme aired on PSM News.

The ruling party, People’s National Congress (PNC) secured the super majority of the Parliament, following the parliamentary elections held on April 21. Abdul Raheem stated that the majority retained is close to 80 members, including 66 PNC candidates elected, who were endorsed by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. He affirmed that the new Parliament would strive to amend laws and regulations such that residents attain the maximum benefit, unlike previous Parliaments.

Abdul Raheem claimed to be aware of the reasons behind the incapacity of previous Parliaments of being retained, and revealed that he knew the stories behind the resignation of 12 parliamentarians during the tenure of Former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Hence, he claimed to be aware of the necessary initiatives and preparations to maintain the majority of the newly elected Parliament.

Additionally, Abdul Raheem disclosed that certain candidates who were elected had previously held senior parliamentarian positions. Therefore, he ensured that the majority elected by the residents will be retained, unlike previous Parliaments.

Source(s): PsmNews

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