IBM unveils computer chips that mimic human brain

US computer giant IBM announced on Thursday that it has developed prototypes of computer chips that mimic the way the human brain works.

The Armonk, New York-based company known as "Big Blue" said the experimental "cognitive computing chips" could eventually lead to machines that "emulate the brain's abilities for perception, action and cognition."

"These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers," said Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research.

"Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture," Modha said.

IBM said cognitive computers, like the human brain, would "learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember - and learn from - the outcomes."

Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates said that IBM was "taking the architecture of the brain and saying 'Can we somehow make the electronics mimic what we know about the brain, how the brain works.'"

"They haven't got to the point where it's doing any practical work yet but they've proven the concept out," Kay told AFP. "It's a new frontier."

According to IBM, which has been conducting artificial intelligence research since 1956, the chips could lead to computers able to ingest complex, real-time information through multiple sensors and translate it into action.

For example, a cognitive computing system monitoring the world's water supply could issue tsunami warnings using a network of sensors that monitor inputs such as temperature, pressure, wave height and acoustics.

"Making sense of real-time input flowing at an ever-dizzying rate would be a Herculean task for today's computers, but would be natural for a brain-inspired system," IBM said.

"Imagine traffic lights that can integrate sights, sounds and smells and flag unsafe intersections before disaster happens," Modha said.

So far, IBM said, it has managed to carry out simple applications using the prototype chips like navigation, pattern recognition and classification.

IBM said the cognitive computing chips replicate the biological synapses, neurons and axons of the human brain using algorithms and silicon circuitry.

They feature integrated memory (replicated synapses), computation (replicated neurons) and communication (replicated axons), it said.

The "long-term goal" of Big Blue is to build a chip system with 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses which consumes just one kilowatt of power and occupies less than two liters of volume.

For phase two of the project known as SyNAPSE - or Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics - IBM said it has joined forces with researchers from Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of California (Merced) and University of Wisconsin (Madison).

IBM said the project has received $21 million in new funding from the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Earlier this year, an IBM supercomputer known as Watson defeated two human contestants on the popular US television quiz show Jeopardy!

Watson, named for IBM founder Thomas Watson, is capable of understanding natural human speech and quickly providing answers to complex questions.

Watson was the latest machine developed by IBM to challenge mankind - in 1997, an IBM computer named "Deep Blue" defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Marketing Executive i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

    Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

    £32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

    Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable