UMass engineers are trying to develop a computer that acts more like a human brain.
While computers can process large swaths of data quickly, they often have trouble with more human-like intelligence -- like making decisions from conflicting information, learning from experience or recognizing faces in a crowd.
"It does not generate creative things," said J. Joshua Yang of UMass Amherst.
Yang is part of an international team that's trying to mimic the human brain in computer hardware. That means creating computerized versions of synapses and neurons, which are the brain's neurological building blocks.
Granted, Yang said, scientists still don't know much about how the brain actually works.
"But what we know is, it works very different from the current computer," he said.
Yang said many scientists have been working on this -- including in Silicon Valley -- but he thinks the UMass team has a leg up on the process because they've developed an electrical device that improves upon existing circuit technology.
The project is still in its early stages, Yang said, but eventually could help develop extra-intelligent robots who can learn what a specific person needs.