IBM’s New “Brain” Chip May Lead to Advanced AI


Image from cnet.com

Image from cnet.com

The far fetched dream of advanced artificial intelligence and computing may not be as far off as we used to think thanks to a new incredibly powerful prototype chip IBM unveiled Thursday.  The chip is designed with the human brain in mind, since the human brain considered the most powerful and efficient processing system in the world.

Normally, computers are mere machines that are analytical and good at crunching numbers, but in order to create anything more sophisticated, such as the afore mentioned artificial intelligence, then what is needed is something that is able to process and ‘learn’ from information received.  Think of it like right brain left brain, the common expectation of computers is the left brain, numbers and calculations, while the new IBM chip attempts to create the right brain.  IBM hopes to combine the new chip with the computational power of more traditional systems to create a “holistic computing  intelligence”.

This kind of chip aims to fulfill the idea of  “Cognitive Computing”, which is trying”to emulate the human brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.” – IBM Site

The chip, called “TrueNorth” is able to to achieve such processing power through the use of incredible “1 million programmable neurons, 256 million configurable synapses (connections) and over 4,000 neurosynaptic cores.” In comparison, the prototype had merely 256 neurons, 260,000 synapses and one core”.  IBM plans even bigger ambitions with the chip, aiming for a staggering “10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses that can process information whilst consuming just 1 kW of power.”  With that kind of power in one chip, the power of a network of many chips together is an incredible thought.

In testing, the chip performed remarkably well.  In one image recognition test, the chip recognized a multitude of objects at an accuracy rate of 80%.

IBM hopes to use the chip in a variety of applications, such as helping  the blind with  vision assistance, self driving cars, and even more.

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