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IBM Wants to Start Making Artificial Brains

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 14 comments
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As powerful as modern computers are, in terms of things like parallel processing and efficient use of power, they are lagging way, way behind the human brain. The world's most powerful computers still take up whole rooms and use more tens of thousands of watts, whereas the squishy mass between my ears only needs a few dozen watts and can still come pretty close to standing up to the most advanced tech on Earth.

Now, more so than ever, IBM is looking to change that and usher in a totally new age of computing – by building machines that use electronic blood, and beginning to construct 3D dies instead of the single-run silicon chips to which we've become accustomed.

CNET has a more detailed feature-length piece on it, but IBM's new initiative is called the Human Brain Project. While still in its infancy, some of the stuff that's already been built is absolutely stunning. The plan is to distribute electrical power and aid cooling with liquids that run directly through the chip instead of simply over it as many modern PCs do. Their goal, which the team believes isn't that far off, is "a 1-petaflop computer in 10 liters." At that speed, you'd be able to take something that cost over $100 million and consumed over 2 Megawatts in 2009 and carry it in a backpack.

While it'd be nice to have one of these theoretical backpack-brains for a gaming rig, I just keep thinking how much harder it would probably be to put something like that together myself. 

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  • 12 Hide
    boju , October 29, 2013 7:07 AM
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

    2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    4. Do not watch Terminator or iRobot.

    Remember to input the 4th rule IBM, Otherwise.. you know... D:
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    ap3x , October 29, 2013 7:02 AM
    Good ole IBM. They are one of the few that could actually pull this thing off. Talk about innovation. This is one of the few things that I really like about Big Blue.
  • 12 Hide
    boju , October 29, 2013 7:07 AM
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

    2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    4. Do not watch Terminator or iRobot.

    Remember to input the 4th rule IBM, Otherwise.. you know... D:
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 29, 2013 8:15 AM
    The problem with creating an artificial brain is that nobody really understands how a real brain works. They should start by talking to this guy:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-man-who-would-teach-machines-to-think/309529/
  • 0 Hide
    boju , October 29, 2013 8:41 AM
    Quote:
    The problem with creating an artificial brain is that nobody really understands how a real brain works. They should start by talking to this guy:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-man-who-would-teach-machines-to-think/309529/


    Always been interested in the potential the human race has, and stress 'if done right'.

    My opinion of course, think of a car, you have your engine, transmission, diffs, power steering, coolant pump, air filters etc. Very similar analogy to a human physiology one might think.

    Some of the parts a human could associate with a car i imagine would be the engine oil pump being the heart and air filter being nose, manifold being lungs, and computer/chip being the brain ;P

    Think the brain besides learning/storing data, huge chunk of our brains resides in operating the body. If (scifi) untapped spaces within the brain potentially making someone superior, i would imagine be done in time by evolution so all is equal.

    Drugs to make a difference?


  • -2 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , October 29, 2013 9:08 AM
    From the CNET site:

    "It's impossible to experimentally map the brain," simply because it's too complicated, Markram said. There are too many neurons overall, 55 different varieties of neuron, and 3,000 ways they can interconnect. That complexity is multiplied by differences that appear with 600 different diseases, genetic variation from one person to the next, and changes that go along with the age and sex of humans.

    "If you can't experimentally map the brain, you have to predict it -- the numbers of neurons, the types, where the proteins are located, how they'll interact," Markram said. "We have to develop an entirely new science where we predict most of the stuff that cannot be measured."

    This is what is wrong with science in general. The whole black box approach to understanding is complete nonsense. You need to understand how something works to predict how it will work.

    Let's say your black box is a car. Your only inputs are the throttle, the brake, and the steering wheel. There is no statistical analysis that will tell you the car is no longer responding to your inputs because you ran out of gas.

    IBM might be able to mimic certain responses, but unless the understand how a brain works, they'll never make anything usefull at prediction.
  • 1 Hide
    robochump , October 29, 2013 12:34 PM
    Hurry up IBM! I cant wait to fight robots instead of going to work every day!
  • 1 Hide
    Murissokah , October 29, 2013 12:50 PM
    Quote:
    This is what is wrong with science in general. The whole black box approach to understanding is complete nonsense. You need to understand how something works to predict how it will work.

    Let's say your black box is a car. Your only inputs are the throttle, the brake, and the steering wheel. There is no statistical analysis that will tell you the car is no longer responding to your inputs because you ran out of gas.

    IBM might be able to mimic certain responses, but unless the understand how a brain works, they'll never make anything usefull at prediction.


    If we restricted ourselves to working with only things we fully understand, we'd still be in the dark ages. Every new knowledge starts as a simple model for something we observe. We then elaborate more, until we have something we can rely on, although we can't always explain it.

    Examples are plentifull: gravity (we can describe how it works but not why), electric field (we describe the effect one charged particle produces on another, we cannot observe the field itself because there is no way to do it with a single charge)...
  • 0 Hide
    QEFX , October 29, 2013 3:01 PM
    For the love of god please sell / give some of these brains to the US Patent Office. They desperately need them.
  • 0 Hide
    QEFX , October 29, 2013 3:03 PM
    For the love of god please sell / give some of these brains to the US Patent Office. They desperately need them.
  • 1 Hide
    FloKid , October 30, 2013 11:02 AM
    @boju
    ....
    5. Watching Startrek is mandatory or your existence is futile : )
  • 0 Hide
    FloKid , October 30, 2013 11:11 AM
    This is really amazing me thinks. Someday we could transfer out consciousness neuron by neuron (slowly, very slowly) into a brain that can be easily debugged and fixed. Watch them EMPs though.
  • 1 Hide
    husker , October 30, 2013 1:53 PM
    Blondes everywhere, rejoice.
  • -1 Hide
    beachbod , October 30, 2013 6:58 PM
    The sooner we put doctors out of business the better. Lazy bastards.
  • 0 Hide
    NightLight , November 30, 2013 4:05 AM
    i require a micro explosive embedded in each artificial brain, just in case :)