Over the course of a year, a group of research scientists at Google’s secret lab, X Development, were obsessed with flies’ brains.
The team believed it could build more efficient neural networks — computer systems for processing information — by modeling the brain structure of flies and other organisms that had evolved over millennia to perform specific tasks.
The project, known internally by its codename, “Valkyrie,” was the typical science-fiction-sounding idea that Google’s self-described “moonshot factory” was designed to dream up. The potential for Valkyrie also seemed vast, from controlling drones to cleaning up satellite imagery faster than existing algorithms could.
But last spring, X Development leaders shut down the project because it lacked a clear path to monetization.