Three years ago, DARPA financed an IBM project to create a whole new paradigm of computing. The Result is SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics). This chip is radically different than any of its predecessors.
“It’s a silicon core capable of digitally replicating the brain's neurons, synapses and axons. To achieve this, researchers took a dramatic departure from the conventional von Neumann computer architecture, which links internal memory and a processor with a single data channel…which isn’t at all power efficient and the problem worsens in larger systems. IBM integrated memory directly within its processors, wedding hardware with software in a design that more closely resembles the brain's cognitive structure. This severely limits data transfer speeds, but allows the system to execute multiple processes in parallel (much like humans do), while minimizing power usage.” – Engadget
This video appeared 2 years ago explaining at a simple level, cognitive computing or AI. There isn’t a good sync between the brain anatomy and his speech…the areas mentioned aren’t the ones being seen on the video, and when he mentions the thalamus, it’s the two gold oblate spheroids not the medulla/pons depicted below them (same color) anyway: http://youtu.be/agYJSdMWXYQ
So, the project has progressed…a great deal in 3 years. That original single core chip now emulates one million neurons, 256 million synapses and 4,096 synaptic cores…while requiring 70mW of power…which is 1 hearing aid battery’s worth.
This is a major achievement (I’m very impressed, but truly concerned)…the achievement is the processing of sensory data by merging and computing in parallel.
How impressive is this? Well, as Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha (IBM’s Chief Scientist) put it, “You can carry one of our boards in your backpack. You can’t carry four racks of standard computers in your backpack.”
As I said, I’m truly impressed by this and what it will bring to computing and to medical devices.
What I’m concerned about is AI in general.