In science's storied quest to mimic how the human brain functions, IBM has hit a major milestone. In a joint venture being funded in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the computer manufacturer has created the first of what it calls "cognitive computer chips" which are designed to emulate the workings of a living brain.
The new technology — nicknamed SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) by DARPA — is miles ahead of any computer system before it, and works much differently. DARPA researcher Dharmendra Modha notes "The computers we have today are more like calculators. We want to make something like the brain." This includes functions like memory and learning, which are already present in the prototype chips built by IBM.
The next step in the ambitious project is to build a full computer system around these thinking chips, with the hopes that it will learn and adapt as it is introduced to new information and concepts. We know what you're thinking, and we're pretty sure this is how the Terminator movies started as well, but what IBM and its partners have done is still quite remarkable.
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