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Microchip Mimics a Brain With 200,000 Neurons

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the will-soon-run-for-congress dept.

Supercomputing 521

Al writes "European researchers have taken a step towards replicating the functioning of the brain in silicon, creating new custom chip with the equivalent of 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections. The aim of the Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States (FACETS) project is to better understand how to construct massively parallel computer systems modeled on a biological brain. Unlike IBM's Blue Brain project, which involves modeling a brain in software, this approach makes it much easier to create a truly parallel computing system. The set-up also features a distributed algorithm that introduces an element of plasticity, allowing the circuit to learn and adapt. The researchers plan to connect thousands of chips to create a circuit with a billion neurons and 10^13 synapses (about a tenth of the complexity of the human brain)."

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521 comments

And it fits on the head of a pin! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330423)

I call this microchip brain "the Pinhead" *

* small print: actual "pinheads" (microcephaly) have more brain capacity than this chip

Re:And it fits on the head of a pin! (-1, Flamebait)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330635)

omg they have invented an electronic republican.

now they have a chance in the next election.

And so.. (1, Funny)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330453)

...it starts. Looks like we're on our way towards the technological singularity.

Re:And so.. (5, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330541)

I for one plan on collaborating with the Cylons.

Re:And so.. (5, Funny)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330577)

Can't be satisfied with machines that act as quiet servants... have to make them intelligent enough to suffer...

Re:And so.. (0, Offtopic)

infonography (566403) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330671)

I for one plan on collaborating with the Cylons.

agreed, I for one welcome our new Cylon overlords.

That's it... we're dead (5, Funny)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330461)

We're all dead.

In fact, the current prototype can operate about 100,000 times faster than a real human brain. "We can simulate a day in a second," says Karlheinz.

We are SO fucking dead.

No really. (2, Insightful)

Tei (520358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330575)

A book is a bunch of letters: A-Za-z
Having 100.000 computerized neurons is like having a "book" made of 100.000 letters. It don't mean make any sense (=It will not compute stuff, just kind of 'exist'). But could be a interesting tech bed to try to make something like, who know? maybe the brain of a worm, or the brain a snake.

I don't know a word about the topic.

Re:No really. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330843)

I don't know a word about the topic.

That much is clear.

Re:That's it... we're dead (4, Interesting)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330685)

Time to stop letting Hollywood think for you. People are smart, yet humanity is not currently enslaved. Why? Because people are intelligent enough to know that's a bad idea. If robots are ever more intelligent than us, they'll also be intelligent enough to make good decisions. Frankly, I'd rather have the more intelligent beings in charge. They would actually make more intelligent decisions! It's humans that should not be trusted. They're just consistently intelligent enough.

Re:That's it... we're dead (5, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330849)

If robots are ever more intelligent than us, they'll also be intelligent enough to make good decisions.

That's exactly the sort of thinking that leads to the enslavement of humanity. Good job falling right into their trap!

Re:That's it... we're dead (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330857)

The problem is that deep down, most people believe that killing off the humans would be the intelligent decision.

Re:That's it... we're dead (1, Insightful)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331009)

And it's not? I mean, what good has humanity done for anything else other than itself?

Re:That's it... we're dead (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330865)

Frankly, I'd rather have the more intelligent beings in charge.

Not if we're competing for resources... I'd hate to be the spotted owl :)

Re:That's it... we're dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330867)

Time to let the old Hollywood teach you a lesson. Intelligence is not tied to ethics. An intelligent computer in charge will find ways to force you to "do the right thing" and won't even try to hide its agenda.

Go watch "Colossus: The Forbin Project". Yes it's old, but it's more true-to-life than the crap Hollywood is producing these days.

Re:That's it... we're dead (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330889)

Exactly. That's why There were three laws to robotics. Which were still violated every now and then.

Re:That's it... we're dead (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330897)

Time to stop letting Hollywood think for you. People are smart, yet humanity is not currently enslaved. Why? Because people are intelligent enough to know that's a bad idea. If robots are ever more intelligent than us, they'll also be intelligent enough to make good decisions. Frankly, I'd rather have the more intelligent beings in charge. They would actually make more intelligent decisions! It's humans that should not be trusted. They're just consistently intelligent enough.
Repeat that little rant while listening to Porno for pyros "pets".
  If robots are ever more intelligent than us, they'll also be intelligent enough to make good decisions.
Depends on whose value system you define good. Angus cattle make "good" hamburgers but I don't know if that is any consolation for the bull.

Re:That's it... we're dead (4, Interesting)

wrf3 (314267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330909)

Because people are intelligent enough to know that's a bad idea
  You overestimate us. Consistently, the majority of people generally choose security over freedom.

If robots are ever more intelligent than us, they'll also be intelligent enough to make good decisions.
Like not letting the toddlers have free run of the house? There's a reason why we have playpens and put locks on cabinets.

Frankly, I'd rather have the more intelligent beings in charge.
And so it begins... letting others make your decisions is the essence of slavery.

Re:That's it... we're dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330915)

They'd be intelligent enough to make intelligent decisions. They don't have to be good ones. I can think of a very effective way to prevent a lot of the problems caused by humans. The problem is, the humans might not agree with the solution. Although strictly speaking they wouldn't disagree with it either. Not for very long anyway.

Re:That's it... we're dead (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330949)

Wait we don't trust our gov't but some of us are willing to trust "smart" machines. What if the smart machines decide it is smart to kill us...to save the rest of the planet?

Re:That's it... we're dead (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331019)

They would actually make more intelligent decisions!

Decision: humans are a security risk.

You left out for whom is it intelligent.

translation of above: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27331057)

I for one welcome our 200,000 neuron brain mimicking microchip overlords.

Re:That's it... we're dead (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331113)

As humans we eat animals and destroy entire ecosystems, repurposing them for our own uses because we see them as lesser life forms. I mean honestly, I think nothing of killing an ant colony in my yard because . . . they're just ants. They're so far beneath me as to regard them as little more than pests.

If AI/robots really does outstripe us that fast, then it might not be a case of active disdain - we might simply be in their way and they'll exterminate us the way that we would termites.

Flawed premise IMHO (3, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331125)

If robots are ever more intelligent than us, they'll also be intelligent enough to make good decisions.

Two points to bring up.

Point the first. Intelligence does not equal good will. Don't make me Godwin this thread.

Point the second. Good decisions...for whom? Us or them? Your robots may have different notions than you have.

Re:That's it... we're dead (1)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331161)

Well, the standard rebuttal to that is 'what is a good decision'? For a human (in general), a good decision will try to enhance his / her position in life specifically, and probably enhance humanity in general. (Yes there are exceptions to this).

However, what would a good decision be for an intelligent robot? The fact that it is 'intelligent' (however you may want to define that) means that it will not be blindly following its programming. Using the very simplistic assumption that an intelligent robot will follow the same basic set of rules as an intelligent human (try to better oneself / one's species), what do we do if the robot decides that it is in its best interest to remove the competition / ineffectiveness / whatever of humans?

Now personally, I think we have a long way to go before we can even get close to something with this level of reasoning, but I could still see it happening sometime in the future. It will be interesting at that time to see how we adjust.

(And of course, all the optimism of 'the robot will be used for good' is most likely naivety; if just one sociopath gets his hands on the plans, and is able to change the 'base programming' (to blatently steal a science fiction term) from 'do good' to 'destroy all humans', then we have an even bigger problem on our hands).

Cheers

Re:That's it... we're dead (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331005)

We can simulate a day in a second

The key word here is "simulate". The reason it can simulate so fast is because simulations can't account for all conditions. They have simulated the behavior of atoms, for instance, but these simulations don't take into account electrons and protons, let alone the quarks and other subatomic particles that make them up afaik.

The last time you played Microsoft Flight Simulator had you moved an inch when you were done? When they simulate an atomic explosion is there any radiation released?

Look, I like science fiction as much as the next guy (probably even more), but you have to realise it's FICTION. No Von Neumann machine will ever think. A chemical based analog computer maybe, but not any computer as we know it today.

Re:That's it... we're dead (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331021)

Paraphrasing a book (forget the name), if you took a dog and made its brain 1000 times faster, all you'd get is a dog that needs 1/1000th of the time to decide whether to sniff your crotch.

Thinking faster would certainly be very useful, but it may not necessarily mean that the output will be of a higher quality.

I hereby (0, Redundant)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330463)

I hail our new robotic brained overlords.

Re:I hereby (4, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330551)

If the Terminator movies have taught me anything, human bones make good groundcover.

AI Evolution (4, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330469)

Add a few chips and you'll soon get "I think, therefore I am."

Keep going and you'll end up with "Bite my shiny metal ass you meatbag!"

I wonder if the researchers will know when to STOP adding the together?

Re:AI Evolution (3, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330495)

I really, really hope they follow the laws of robotics with any sort of "learning and adaptation" behavior.

Re:AI Evolution (4, Informative)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330593)

It's a nitpicky point, of course, but the whole point of many of the Asimov robot books was how poorly those laws held up in reality. I, for one, wouldn't trust any 3-laws robot for anything.

Re:AI Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330633)

The laws always worked great. The problem was humans suck at telling robots what to do.

Re:AI Evolution (1)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330791)

Linux always works great. The problem is humans suck at telling computers what to do.

Fix that for ya.

Re:AI Evolution (2, Insightful)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330727)

About learning and adaptation... Just making a network of interconnected transistors and capacitors doesn't enable a machine to learn much, if proper mechanisms for synaptic plasticity don't exist. In other words, there has to be a way for new synapses to form and old ones to die out in order for it to function anything like a human brain does.

Re:AI Evolution (2, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330637)

I wonder if the researchers will know when to STOP adding the together?

Simple.

When the AI starts adding it themselves without human intervention.

Re:AI Evolution (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330801)

When the AI starts adding it themselves without human intervention.

"If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee, that will do them in"

From somewhere in the past. Still true. Sad, but true.

Re:AI Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330673)

No, add a few chips and you'll get the same as this: nothing (until it is properly trained...) can they actually learn anything human-like?

The Cylons where created by man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330475)

yes

I, for one.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330477)

..welcome our new, silicon-brain-on-a-chip overlords!

Speech capabilities? (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330499)

The first words out of it were: "They misunderestimated me."

Re:Speech capabilities? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330661)

No it wasn't. It was mimicking a human brain, so clearly the first things it knew how to do were say "What?" and "Where's the tea?"

Re:Speech capabilities? (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330913)

"I didn't ask to be made: no one consulted me or considered my feelings in the matter. I don't think it even occurred to them that I might have feelings. After I was made, I was left in a dark room for six months... and me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side. I called for succour in my loneliness, but did anyone come? Did they hell. My first and only true friend was a small rat. One day it crawled into a cavity in my right ankle and died. I have a horrible feeling it's still there..." - Marvin

Re:Speech capabilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330931)

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Re:Speech capabilities? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330997)

The first words out of it were: "They misunderestimated me."

Why programmed it with W's vocabulary?

cluster? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330503)

Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of these!!

The researchers plan to connect several chips to create a circuit with a billion neurons and 10^13 synapses (about a tenth of the complexity of the human brain).

Oh wait. The researchers already did.

Bastards stole my thunder.

Re:cluster? (5, Funny)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330745)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these imagining a beowulf cluster of these!!

Re:cluster? (0, Offtopic)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330939)

Yo dawg, I heard you like beowulf cluster so we put a beowulf cluster in your beowulf cluster so you can simulate a brain while you simulate a brain.

Re:cluster? (4, Funny)

Zeromous (668365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330991)

Yo Dawg, We noticed you like Beowulf clusters, so we put a Beowulf cluster in your Beowulf cluster of Beowulf clusters.

Re:cluster? (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330753)

That might cause some cluster headaches

Re:cluster? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330855)

Or more likely, give us a better understanding of a "clusterfuck".

A brain with 200,000 neurons? (4, Funny)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330515)

Does this mean we have completed an artificial politician brain?

Re:A brain with 200,000 neurons? (5, Funny)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330853)

No, the artificial politician brain has 200,000 morons. Tim S

Re:A brain with 200,000 neurons? (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330959)

Nope, it means we're now at 10 times the power of an artificial politician brain.

Next ... (1)

chekk4 (1367067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330525)

Cyber zombies! "Braaains..."

snark (2, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330527)

This chip sounds stupid.

'Mimics a brain' (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330529)

... but can it imagine a Beowulf cluster of itself running Linux?

I for one welcome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330555)

...our plant like, hyper-intelligent, computer controlled overlords.

Welcome home, Colossus, greetings from Forbes !

Re:I for one welcome... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330971)

It's Forbin, not Forbes.

I always figured it would take this to get true AI (4, Interesting)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330571)

The more I learned about computers, the more I figured that they were more like a complex engine (data or gasoline is input, its moved around, operated on by parts, and then output as results/exhaust). Maybe that's why car analogies are so popular?

But another thing to be wary of is chemical imbalances. How many brain disorders are caused by the absence of a protein or inhibitor? The chip might take several redesigns over several years to get a solid model of a properly functioning neuron. I mean, who is going to notice a schizophrenic ant or beetle, or a rat with the mental equivalent of down's syndrome? They might spend a decade building up a brain with the complexity of a human brain only to find out that its "mentally disabled". Just look at how many people have mental issues, be it emotional, learning, or developmental issues with "properly functioning" neurons but are lacking one of a hundred chemicals that make them all work together as a whole.

I'm sure that the end result of this experimentation is not a human brain, but instead a robot that can navigate ruins like a rat (downs syndrome or not) or work together like (schizophrenic or normal) ants. I'm sure they'll eventually make a financial computer that can work like a wall street broker (employed by aig or not).

Re:I always figured it would take this to get true (5, Funny)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330891)

I mean, who is going to notice a schizophrenic ant

That's the one that is walking along, waving its antennae to no one, and creeping out the other workers.

Re:I always figured it would take this to get true (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331085)

Just look at how many people have mental issues, be it emotional, learning, or developmental issues with "properly functioning" neurons but are lacking one of a hundred chemicals that make them all work together as a whole.

And let's not forget the fact that human brain isn't just a lump of neurons. It has structure, which is vital for its proper operation. It's exactly like how it's not enough to simply throw a few million transistors together to have a functional computer; they must also be connected just right. The good old Pentium [wikipedia.org] demonstrated this nicely.

This is nothing. (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330583)

This is nothing more than throwing more hardware at an existing problem. This has been emulated in software before, with nothing much to show for it. This will make it easier to model such things, but multiplying almost nothing by many, many times is still very little.

Re:This is nothing. (5, Insightful)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330677)

You might be correct, but it is also possible that the "humanity" of the human brain is an emergent property that manifests only when there's a certain critical mass of grey matter. Developing synthentic neural systems with more and more neurons is likely, if nothing else, to test the hypothesis that consciousness, for some arbitrary definition thereof, is emergent.

Re:This is nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27331071)

It's not just the amount but the organization that is critical. And it's still very mysterious.

Re:This is nothing. (4, Interesting)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330703)

The core problem of course is that this "simulates" nothing, really. A typical neuron is a vastly complex electro-chemical computer, which all of these researchers seem to keep studiously ignoring. That means that processing of electrical signals is just one (and small at that) aspect of the functioning of the neuron. In fact neurons can communicate via multiple information transfer "channels", involving chemicals called "neurotransmitters" (each having a different effect on the recipient neuron) with the electrical impulses used merely as a high-speed (as compared to purely chemical) long-range trigger mechanism.

With this in the background, it is not difficult to see that this project, like many before it, while sounding "cool", goes really nowhere and is just yet another publicity stunt.

Re:This is nothing. (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330885)

A typical neuron is a vastly complex electro-chemical computer,

You can still simulate these interactions digitally and have the output match. Like these guys [bluebrain.epfl.ch] did.

Re:This is nothing. (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331075)

Err, that would be somewhat difficult given that we do not know the underlying chemical mechanisms and their complexity still baffles us. So, nice try ... but no cigar.

So while it is true, that we can simulate (theoretically) the whole relevant workings of the neuron, each neuron is an equivalent of a micro-controller networked with other micro-controllers via a type of a LAN. Given that we figure out the firmware the micro-controllers run and the protocols used by the LAN we could theoretically recreate the thing (assuming that no wacky quantum phenomena are involved, which is far from certain and in fact a distinct possibility). But we are nowhere near even getting a part of the firmware right and so pretending that having the wires look "right" and the patterns of traffic of the packets (as opposed to their contents) "similar", which is what the guys in the article are doing, is actually getting us anywhere is laughable.

Missed point - won't be 1/10th brain (3, Interesting)

markk (35828) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331111)

Yes you can simulate a neuron, but the point is that this chip is not doing that. What they are calling the equivalent of a neuron here is at least an order of magnitude (likely more than one) simpler than a real neuron. That is why these comparisons where they say 1/10th the brain are vastly off base. Plus the effects of the glial cells on processing is showing that they have more importance than previously thought. Since we don't really understand the brain in any great detail, all these comparisons tend to make me wince. They almost always equate very simple circuits (relatively) to neurons. It is a red flag for hype really.

Re:This is nothing. (1)

jojo78 (640412) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330907)

It does sound cool which is why people are interested. You should contribute some of your thoughts though to the project instead of here if you're feeling generous. : )

Re:This is nothing. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331029)

But in the end it's all information and processing, no matter the method of communicating or processing.

So no it won't emulate a real brain, but as long as the end result is the same, why bother with the details ?

I disagree. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331061)

The details are not important. Like you can drive a car, and you don't need to know the color of that car to drive it. A neuron is a simple thing. It collect M signals, and generate a single output.

Re:This is nothing. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331119)

The core problem of course is that this "simulates" nothing, really.

You don't seem to have a grasp of what "simulate" means. The simulation doesn't have to be exact. No offense, but I think you put undue weight on the chemical aspect. For a biological brain the key effect of chemical interaction is to slow the brain down substantially. That timing may be necessary (for example, storing and recall memories of events that occur over a short period of time).

Re:This is nothing. (1)

medlefsen (995255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331121)

A typical neuron is a vastly complex electro-chemical computer, which all of these researchers seem to keep studiously ignoring.

That's because it's irrelevant. It's not how information is transmitted that matters but what. As long as this system can handle the same complexity of interactions (and frankly even if it can't, at * 100,000 speeds they can fake it) then you can "simulate" a biological brain.

This is just another example of the abstractions we do every day when dealing with computers. Hell, the system they're comparing it to doesn't even use electrical signals, but attempts to emulate them in software.

It seems to me that the bigger problem is going to be programming the thing.

Re:This is nothing. (2, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330787)

Mod parent up. Any Turing-complete computing device, given enough memory and storage, can replicate anything this hardware can do. The capabilities, programming model, performance, etc, can all be determined exactly without requiring a physical model. In fact, it would be ridiculous for them to not have completely simulated the hardware before testing it.

Re:This is nothing. (3, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330933)

Mod parent up. Any Turing-complete computing device, given enough memory and storage, can replicate anything this hardware can do.

A digital system can never perfectly replicate an analog system, and a clock-driven system can never perfectly replicate an asynchronous system.

Re:This is nothing. (2, Informative)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330993)

Any Turing-complete computing device, given enough memory and storage, can replicate anything this hardware can do.

But can it be replicated at a reasonable speed? The "analogue" in the name implies that the designers are taking advantage of the nearly-instantaneous nature of analogue computing.

In fact, the last part of TFA implies that this is exactly why the design was built as hardware - because software simulations were too slow.

Re:This is nothing. (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330893)

It's not software emulation, it's analog hardware with real-time asynchronous feedback. Also, I'm not sure that it will help with modelling real systems, as you can't pause and save and restore a real-time asynchronous system.

Re:This is nothing. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330961)

This is nothing more than throwing more hardware at an existing problem. This has been emulated in software before, with nothing much to show for it. This will make it easier to model such things, but multiplying almost nothing by many, many times is still very little.

You evidently aren't terribly familiar with what 'emergent' means, are you?

Sometimes, when you put enough almost nothings together, you get something much greater than big pile of almost nothings.

An couple individual neuron is almost nothing. Multiply that "almost nothing by many, many times" and you end up with something that might be capable of intelligence.

still noting disastrous results of fake 'weather' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330623)

still doesn't qualify as 'stuff that matters'...anywhere? keeping our eye off the ball (& on some irrelevant nonsense) is the 'new' media's cause/effect.

Humph! (4, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330679)

*My* brain mimics a brain with 200,000 neurons.

Speed vs. generalisation (1)

worip (1463581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330683)

From the article: "The reason why computers seem much slower is that they are serial machines, while our brains run in parallel"
Computers are definitely faster than humans doing focused tasks, like computing a 1024-point FFT or inverting a 1000x1000 matrix.

Bad summary (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330715)

No mention of the fact that it will become self-aware in 2 years and 25 days, or that two days later, the war on humanity will begin.

Wonderful! (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330717)

So when is Cyberdyne planning on officially launching Skynet?

Re:Wonderful! (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331051)

December 12, 2012.

Just a wild guess though.

Meme-aholic. (1, Funny)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330729)

I for one welcome our new stupid robotic overlords.

It'll simulate a brain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330755)

If it dreams of electric sheep.
Or wakes up "saluting the flag".
either one.

Oh great. Next step: (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330769)

Toasters. Then stacked blonde religious nutjobs will penetrate our security, and it'll all be over.

Re:Oh great. Next step: (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331139)

You say that like it's a bad thing.

"Do all the Cylons look like you? Yeah, yeah, sure. God's plan whatever. C'mover here baby. I'll make your spine glow."

Where is Sarah O'Conner when you need her? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27330789)

Jeez isn't Sarah supposed to stop Skynet already? and why are the eggheads always the last ones to figure out that maybe creating a computer that can learn and think like a human might not be such a good idea.

Connection complexity: 2d vs. 3d ? (2, Insightful)

kbonin (58917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330795)

It seems like these approaches are constrained in connection complexity by semiconductor fabrication, which would seem to severely limit the geometry to 2d. The article doesn't go into this, and it seems likely they put some effort into working around this with traditional approaches using buses and the like, but it does seem like you can't achieve the same degree of interconnection complexity on a thin 2d wafer as is seen in a typical 3d brain...

Re:Connection complexity: 2d vs. 3d ? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331089)

A 3D CPU... now where have I seen this before...

I can't remember. As soon as I do, I'll be back.

Memristors (2, Interesting)

dupper (470576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330823)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor [wikipedia.org]

Every time any story mentions them, their potential applications are reduced to the staggeringly, criminally mundane "could lead to faster computer memory". Standard von Neumann computer memory. A shame.

The brain is not a sequential Turing machine. Has any form of finite connectionism even been proven Turing-complete?

That (if I understand this story correctly) they here have been able to do what they have using components suited for our "traditional" computing architecture rather than the raw connectionist architecture of the brain is wonderful. It sounds like they're emulating synapses and plasticity/learning.

But the right memristors wouldn't be an emulation -- I'm not sure if they've actually made memristors with memristance profiles specifically for mimicking biological synapses, but THIS is their utility and the future. ... I'm not quite sure how this article tripped this indignant rant. I suppose I always figured I'd see this story using memristors first, but I guess that's just the next step.

How does a neuron make thought? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330873)

We don't even know what "thought" is, except that it's a complex chemical reaction. Wake me up when we actually know what causes sentience and how it works.

And what about memory? (1)

AlbieWK (629189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330953)

OK, this chip can execute interconnected logic in hardware. It's obvious how this could also be performed in software, albeit not in a massively parallel fashion. I don't mean to imply this is a trivial task. But the fact is that brain operation depends hugely on memory. And as far as I know, we don not have even a glimmer as to how memory actually works. Maybe some vague ideas, but certainly not a comprehensive understanding. So this thing that has been developed is really, at best, more like a simple brain stem, able to execute relatively simple logic. It's probably just a overgrown industrial process controller.

Now name it.... (1)

soG7 (1515545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27330975)

Now you name it Skynet, and call Schwarzenegger to stop a sexy Terminator from killing some Connor guy... I' would better stop drinking so much coffe...

as smart as us? (0)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331003)

about a tenth of the complexity of the human brain

considering we use 10% of our conscious brain...

Can't do their sums perhaps? (2, Funny)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331023)

"creating new custom chip with the equivalent of 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections."

"The researchers plan to connect several chips to create a circuit with a billion neurons and 10^13 synapses (about a tenth of the complexity of the human brain)."

Presumably, for very large values of "several".

Blue Brain Actually Modeled A Neocortical Column (1)

cybrpnk2 (579066) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331067)

Read the great SEED article closely. The IBM Blue Brain project was trying to map the physical layout of the neocortical column [wikipedia.org] , a standardized blob of nerve cells about a millimeter long and a fraction of a millimeter in diameter. If the brain is a machine made of modular parts, then the neocortical column is the starndard Lego used, over and over and over.

Let it run for president... (1)

soG7 (1515545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27331167)

It has 200.000 neurons ? It can run for US President, having as lower standard the previous one...
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