LIGHT-POWERED COMPUTERS BRIGHTEN AI’S FUTURE

The idea of building a computer that uses light rather than electricity goes back more than half a century. “Optical computing” has long promised faster performance while consuming much less energy than conventional electronic computers. The prospect of a practical optical computer has languished, however, as scientists have struggled to make the light-based components needed to outshine existing computers. Despite these setbacks, optical computers might now get a fresh start—researchers are testing a new type of photonic computer chip, which could pave the way for artificially intelligent devices as smart as self-driving cars, but small enough to fit in one’s pocket...

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