IBM Building Brain-Like Computer

It’s called ‘cognitive computing,’ a field that combines neurobiologists, computer and materials, scientists, and psychologists. In this case the scientists, from five US universities, are all coming together under the aegis of IBM to try and combine what they know about biological systems and supercomputer simulations of neurons. Then, the BBC reports, they’ll build a system that behaves like the simulations, with the long-term goal of building a computer with the complexity of a cat’s brain.

The project has been given a $4.9 million grant from defense agency Darpa.

When complete, the project could be used for image recognition, decision making, or data analysis on a massive scale.

Dharmendra Modha, the IBM scientist who is heading the collaboration, worked on the BlueGene supercomputer last year to simulate a mouse’s brain, comprising 55million neurons and a staggering half a trillion synapses. He said:

"The mind has an amazing ability to integrate ambiguous information across the senses, and it can effortlessly create the categories of time, space, object, and interrelationship from the sensory data."

"There are no computers that can even remotely approach the remarkable feats the mind performs."

"The key idea of cognitive computing is to engineer mind-like intelligent machines by reverse engineering the structure, dynamics, function and behavior of the brain."

The project will take a different approach to the more establish neural networks.

"We are attempting a 180 degree shift in perspective: seeking an algorithm first, problems second. We are investigating core micro- and macro-circuits of the brain that can be used for a wide variety of functionalities," said Professor Modha.