Feeds

IBM lab builds computerized cat brain

Feline consciousness sim

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

ROTM Mad scientists at IBM say they've made "significant progress" towards creating a computer chip that can emulate the human brain's ability to sense, perceive, comprehend, and interact with the real world*.

Big Blue says its ultimate goal is to develop computer systems that can handle with real-world ambiguity and interact with complex environments in a context-dependent manner.

The rise of our robotic overlords is not quite nigh, but IBM said it has already simulated a cat-sized cerebral cortex — the area of the brain that's key to memory, attention, and consciousness — using a massive Blue Gene supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

This feline-scale cortical simulation, which was made with the help of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, included 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses. The simulation ran 100 to 1,000 times slower than real-time, said Dharmendra Modha, manager of IBM's Cognitive Computing unit at its Almaden Research Center, in a blog post.

The IBM team's latest simulation results represent a model about 4.5% the scale of the human cerebral cortex, which was run at 1/83 of real time. The machine used provided 144TB of memory and 0.5PFLop/s [petaFLOPS per second].

Turning to the future, you can see that running human scale cortical simulations will probably require 4 PB of memory and to run these simulations in real time will require over 1 EFLop/s [exaFLOPS per second]. If the current trends in supercomputing continue, it seems that human-scale simulations will be possible in the not too distant future.

Modha notes that the research is mostly focused on developing the simulator as a scientific tool to study the behavior and dynamic of the brain rather than making a system that would — for example — behave like a cat. That sort of thing is still beyond the grasp of modern neuroscience.</p

"Our hope is that by incorporating many of the ingredients that neuroscientists think may be important to cognition in the brain, such as general statistical connectivity pattern and plastic synapses ["plastic" meaning the strength of connections can change according to certain rules], we may be able to use the model as a tool to help understand how the brain produces cognition," he said.

The brain model research is complemented by IBM's collaboration with Stanford University to develop an algorithm that uses the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture to measure and map cortical and sub-cortical wiring in a human brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging.

Big Blue says the algorithm and simulator combined will allow scientists to experiment with mathematical hypotheses of brain function and structure as they work towards building a "cognitive computing chip" that could be used to solve some of the world's most complicated computing problem — or gain sentience shortly after its placed in control of all of the US military's weaponry and decide humans are a threat to existence when its operators try to shut the system down. 50/50 chance, we'd reckon. ®

*Yes, but can it love!?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ellison: Sparc M7 is Oracle's most important silicon EVER
'Acceleration engines' key to performance, security, Larry says
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Lenovo to finish $2.1bn IBM x86 server gobble in October
A lighter snack than expected – but what's a few $100m between friends, eh?
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
Hey, what's a STORAGE company doing working on Internet-of-Cars?
Boo - it's not a terabyte car, it's just predictive maintenance and that
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.