What Comes After Humans? The World of AI


August 26, 2021

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If you've watched Westworld, even just one episode, you know the answer - a synthetic body with artificial intelligence capable of learning tasks where previously only organic minds could process. Now, with the high performance of Si wafers and what it means for processing power, the once distant dream is a reality.

What Are Silicon Wafers?

Did you know that nearly everybody on the planet has used a wafer or at some point has benefitted from one? As it stands today, wafers are in many gadgets and gizmos that we all use each day. Some of these are:

  • Cell phones
  • Televisions
  • Virtual Reality glasses
  • Vehicles
  • Remote controllers

Almost every electronic on the market today uses a silicon wafer, but if it doesn't, chances are high it uses GaAs, INP reclaim, or other variations of wafers. Bottom line, if it's electronic, it needs a wafer to function as intended. 

Si Wafers in Greater Detail

The reason silicon is so heavily used in creating a wafer is due to its extreme accessibility. Did you know that silicon is the second most naturally abundant element found on Earth? Even expanding the search to the known universe's edge and silicon is still the seventh most abundant element you'll find. If you're looking to find silicon, your best place to check is the Earth's crust. In the thinnest part of our planet, four sections contain the highest concentration of silicon. Due to it being near the surface and its properties soon to be discussed, it's a no-brainer why silicon is heavily entrenched in our future. However, easiness to find and harvest is only partially the answer. Silicon is a natural semiconductor. Not a true conductor and far from a perfect insulator, this material is terrific for manipulating electrical current in a bevy of modern devices. Take your phone, for example. Each time you press the screen or side buttons, you expect your physical response to being answered with the corresponding action. This input and response feedback is where wafers thrive.

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Wafers and Semiconductors

To fully appreciate the difference between a wafer and semiconductor, let's explore what both are. After all, just because wafers are extremely important doesn't mean you have a wafer inside of your fancy personal communicator. To begin, a wafer is a circular disc with a 12-inch diameter. This is the largest size to date and hit the market 19 years ago, in 2002. These current sizes are 12 times larger than the originals that debuted in 1960.  On the wafer itself, many small silicon ingots are used as building blocks for integrated computer chips. These chips are then doped either positive or negative (n-type or p-type), determining how they will function.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While science fiction and reality rarely parallel each other, AI is currently being tested and tirelessly improved. While it'll still be a long time before robots sweep our homes and fix our cars, early adaptations are all over the market. While not true AI, a lot is still left to learn from these early trials. When we think of AI, we often think of the virtual assistant we received from our favorite online retailer. However, our phones and even search engines have created robotic assistants, which leave us wondering how we ever survived without them. While these are marvels in their own right, can we say they boast true artificial intelligence? The common thread of these devices is the heavy reliance on a wake word. While companies claim these always listen, waiting for a keyword before operation disqualifies these from the artificial intelligence conversation. Despite their listening, we've been assured they discard irrelative data, protecting our safety and privacy.  To date, all of these types of products are classified as conversational AI. While undoubtedly a positive step in the right direction, it's still a far cry away from what our movies and TV shows promise us. Perhaps one day, our assistants will begin the conversation, process data instantly, just like their creators.

What the Future Has in Store 

Despite how fast the computing power of semiconductors currently is and how far conversational AI has grown, true synthetic intelligence is not yet ready to overtake the world. Most experts in the field say that we're at least 40 years away from a synthetic passing a consciousness test. While 2060 is a ways off, the profound impact of AI is already changing the way wafers and semiconductors are created. The change is a shift away from the overall performance of chips in favor of storing and accessing archived information quicker and more efficiently. In essence, the goal is to allow chips to function identically to human brain synapses. To achieve this, machines will need to have nonvolatile memory. This means saving information without using a lot of power to do so.  In a perfect world, an AI will store and retrieve information with extremely low power consumption. However, technology isn't yet quick enough. While search engines can comb millions of pages with each search to find pertinent information, the ability to recall information just as quickly is not yet possible. In addition, other areas of computer chips will need an overhaul as well. Until recently, virtual assistants lacked the ability to learn. Now, conversational AI is beginning to evolve. With the newfound ability to learn, these devices can apply previously learned knowledge to improve the answers they provide. Whether learning user preferences, voice and piecing together what you mean, the processing power of silicon wafers has already improved greatly. It's just a matter of time before these machines truly rival their creators. 

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Looking for Si Wafers to Start Your Next Project?

We reduce, reuse, and recycle old wafers here at Wafer World to create new si wafers. If you're in the testing stage and would like cost-effective testing components, there are no better or greener options than our products. Call the experts today to see which of our products is right for your intended uses. If you need help, we’re always here to assist you.

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