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The brain appears to spend about 4.7 bits per synapse (26 discernible states, given the noisy computation environment of the brain); so it seems to be plenty enough for general intelligence. This could, of course, merely be a biological limit and on silicon more fine-grained weights might be the optimum.

Here is another paper demonstrating very good results with just 6 bit gradients: https://arxiv.org/abs/1606.06160

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