In a press release today, IBM announced that along with four universities and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have created the basic design of an experimental computer chip that emulates the way the brain processes information. The project has been running at IBM since 2009.
"Called cognitive computers, systems built with these chips won't be programmed the same way traditional computers are today. Rather, cognitive computers are expected to learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember - and learn from - the outcomes, mimicking the brains structural and synaptic plasticity." Said Kelly Sims.
Like the brain, IBM's prototype chips can dynamically rewire itself.A cognitive computer monitoring the oceans could record and compute variables like temperature, wave height and acoustics, and decide whether to issue tsunami or hurricane warnings. Or a grocer stocking shelves could use a special glove that monitors scent, texture and sight to flag contaminated produce, Modha said. Modern computers can't handle that level of detail from so many inputs, he said. But our brains do it all the time - grab a rotting peach, and your senses of touch, smell and sight work in concert instantaneously to determine that the fruit is bad.
"This is the seed for a new generation of computers, using a combination of supercomputing, neuroscience, and nanotechnology," said Mr. Modha, principal investigator of the DARPA project.
IBM Press Release