IBM says its making significant progress toward developing a computer system that works like the human brain.
At a recent supercomputing conference, IBM said its cognitive computing team has made great strides in “large-scale cortical simulation and a new algorithm that synthesizes neurological data,” which they believe will make building a cognitive computing chip possible.
“BlueMatter, a new algorithm created in collaboration with Stanford University, exploits the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture in order to noninvasively measure and map the connections between all cortical and sub-cortical locations within the human brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging,” IBM said in a statement.
IBM scientists and colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab said they have performed the first near real-time cortical simulation of the brain that goes beyond the scale of a cat cortex and contains one billion spiking neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses.
Prior to the announcement, scientists had reported simulating 40 percenot of a mouse’s brain in 2006. By 2007, they had simulated a rat’s full brain, and just one percent of a human’s cerebral cortex by this year.
The simulation actually runs 100 times slower than a feline’s brain, but it is used to allow scientists to observe how thoughts are formed in the brain and how neurons work together.
“Mapping the wiring diagram of the brain is crucial to untangling its vast communication network and understanding how it represents and processes information,” said scientists.
“Businesses will simultaneously need to monitor, prioritize, adapt and make rapid decisions based on ever-growing streams of critical data and information. A cognitive computer could quickly and accurately put together the disparate pieces of this complex puzzle, while taking into account context and previous experience, to help business decision makers come to a logical response.”
“Learning from the brain is an attractive way to overcome power and density challenges faced in computing today,” said Josephine Cheng, IBM Fellow and lab director of IBM Research – Almaden.
“As the digital and physical worlds continue to merge and computing becomes more embedded in the fabric of our daily lives, it’s imperative that we create a more intelligent computing system that can help us make sense the vast amount of information that’s increasingly available to us, much the way our brains can quickly interpret and act on complex tasks.”