Mar 9, 2024

Not Science Fiction: How Optical Neural Networks Are Revolutionizing AI

Posted by in categories: information science, robotics/AI, sustainability

A novel architecture for optical neural networks utilizes wavefront shaping to precisely manipulate the travel of ultrashort pulses through multimode fibers, enabling nonlinear optical computation.

Present-day artificial intelligence systems rely on billions of adjustable parameters to accomplish complex objectives. Yet, the vast quantity of these parameters incurs significant expenses. The training and implementation of such extensive models demand considerable memory and processing power, available only in enormous data center facilities, consuming energy on par with the electrical demands of medium-sized cities. In response, researchers are currently reevaluating both the computing infrastructure and the machine learning algorithms to ensure the sustainable advancement of artificial intelligence continues at its current rate.

Optical implementation of neural network architectures is a promising avenue because of the low-power implementation of the connections between the units. New research reported in Advanced Photonics combines light propagation inside multimode fibers with a small number of digitally programmable parameters and achieves the same performance on image classification tasks with fully digital systems with more than 100 times more programmable parameters.

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