UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


EEE researchers call for investment in neuromorphic computing

13 April 2022

UCL Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE) researchers have a paper featured in Nature that argues for Government support.

Tony and Adnan neuromorphic computing

The paper, entitled 'Brain-inspired computing needs a master plan', makes a concise case for investment in neuromorphic computing and, authors Professor Tony Kenyon and Dr Adnan Mehonic have used this argument with UKRI and Government to try to unlock funding in this space.

As they state, new computing technologies inspired by the brain promise fundamentally different ways to process information with extreme energy efficiency and the ability to handle the avalanche of unstructured and noisy data that is being generated at an ever-increasing rate.

To realise this promise requires a brave and coordinated plan to bring together disparate research communities and to provide them with the funding, focus and support needed. This has been done this in the past with digital technologies; a similar process is undeway for quantum technologies; can it now be actioned for brain-inspired computing?    

Professor Tony Kenyon states: ​​​

Existing computing systems, thanks to their fundamental structure, consume so much energy that they are fast becoming unsustainable. On the other hand, the brain is perhaps the most power-efficient computing system we know. Taking inspiration from biology could let us develop hugely more efficient and powerful computers, but we need to invest at scale in research into these “neuromorphic” systems now.

Dr Mehonic adds:

The rapid success of AI is supported by three factors: availability of vast amounts of data, algorithmic innovations and continuous growth in computing power. Out of these three, computing power, enabled by hardware systems, is becoming the bottleneck - once again. The time is ripe to start looking for innovation at all levels, from materials to systems and algorithms. The human brain represents an ideal source of inspiration for building future energy-efficient and functional AI systems, and for that, we need a concrete plan.  


Paper details:
Mehonic, A., Kenyon, A.J. Brain-inspired computing needs a master plan. Nature 604, 255–260 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-04362-w