Electric Sheep: IBM Invents Brain Chip
According to the BBC, researchers believe this technology could be the foundation of artificial intelligence. IBM’s project leader, Dharmendra Modha, intended on replicating aspects of the human mind, such as those than control emotion, perception, sensation and cognition by “reverse engineering the brain.”
Cognitive computers could be used for interpreting and understanding human behaviour, while also monitoring its (or their?) environments.
The SyNapse system makes use of two “neurosynaptic computing chips,” being described by scientists as the electronic neurons. Both have 256 computational cores, with one containing 262,144 programmable synapses, and the other 65,536 learning synapses.
With humans, learning occurs through the physical connections between synaptic connections and brain cells. Machines cannot solder and de-solder their electrical tracks, with the limitation only permitting a simulation.
Dr Richard Cooper, a leader in cognitive science at the University of London, says the “virtual machine” will turn up the volume on important input signals, prioritising some over others.
“Part of the trick is the learning algorithm – how should you turn those volumes up and down,” said Dr Cooper.
“There’s a whole bunch of tasks that can be done just with a relatively simple system like that such as associative memory. When we see a cat we might think of a mouse.”
IBM is continuing its research in the field, with the company and its academic partners being awarded US$21 million by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).