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New IBM Computer Chip Closer to Functioning Like Brain

A new IBM computer chip is closer to functioning like the human brain, researchers announced on Thursday.

A new IBM computer chip is closer to functioning like the human brain, researchers announced on Thursday.

Technology is constantly making advances, and now IBM, along with help from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and with collaboration from several universities, has developed a microchip which copies how the human brain works, and researchers are enthusiastic as to what this means for the future.

Because the brain learns from memory, developing such a chip has been challenging. In fact two working prototypes were unveiled on Thursday, and are called “neurosynaptic chips”. The brain uses neurons which are connected to many others, and as the brain learns the connections to these neurons change, and as the brain is learning all the time, these connections are thus always changing.

However, in computer chips, information is processed systematically, one piece of data at a time, so it has been difficult to develop a chip which works similar to the brain. The new chips called “neural cores”, have the ability to be reconfigured, which means that they can be adjusted to perform tasks which they were originally unable to perform, just like the brain can.

The universities involved in the project are Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of California-Merced and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with funding being provided by the SyNAPSE, initiative, the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, which is part of DARPA.

In September in San Jose at the Custom Integrated Circuits conference, the researchers and their collaborators will present their two papers reporting on different experiments in which the neural core chips learn tasks such as how to play Pong, or navigate a car along a simple track, while another has been programmed to recognize images.

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Eric is an unashamed techno-geek (with an odd love of the outdoors) and one of the few people who can start a conversation in a roomful of similarly inclined techies and end up being the focal point for a crowd ... he also has the benefit of being able to speak and write in ways that are understandable to normal humans.

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