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IBM Devises Software For Its Experimental Brain-Modeling Chips

timothy posted about a year ago | from the pardon-me-but-are-you-a-brain-model? dept.

AI 33

alphadogg writes "Following up on work commissioned by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), IBM has developed a programming paradigm, and associated simulator and basic software library, for its experimental SyNAPSE processor. The work suggests the processors could be used for extremely low-power yet computationally powerful sensor systems. 'Our end goal is to create a brain in a box,' said Dharmendra Modha, and IBM Research senior manager who is the principal investigator for the project. The work is a continuation of a DARPA project to design a system that replicates the way a human processes information." Also at SlashBI.

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Why do we need to model brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44512595)

There are plenty of the real thing around.

Re:Why do we need to model brains? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44512693)

I've never seen a brain in a model that was worth shit. []

Re:Why do we need to model brains? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44514507)

She's got a good fucking point, though.

People without access to maps is cause for concern if we want to ever get back in this STEM battle everyone says we're losing.

Ken Jennings loves maps. He's smart as a whip. This chick at least understands why Mr. Jennings is the greatest Jeopardy contestant ever, even if she can't spell the show's name correctly.

Print some damned maps, people! Think of the children of the Iraq and such as South Africa?

Re:Why do we need to model brains? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#44513219)

Because we don't understand it... if we can, however, approximate its function with a computer model, then we can analayze it more closely and determine exactly why it made the decisions that it did... which may, in turn, lead to insight into why us human beings make the choices that we do.

Re:Why do we need to model brains? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44518027) be able to put the correct ad in front of us at the correct time, to make us want to buy something.

Another step (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44512625)

towards the Singularity.

I for one... (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | about a year ago | (#44512633)

welcome our new Brain in a Box overlords.

The key to Synapse (2)

katana (122232) | about a year ago | (#44512687)

It's not in the box, it's in the band.

Re:The key to Synapse (1)

aitikin (909209) | about a year ago | (#44512823)

Damn. Where's my mod points when I need them!

Re:The key to Synapse (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#44516069)

It's not in the box, it's in the band.

It's in the concentration camp.

Also on SlashBISEXUAL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44512711)

Who gives a fuck! Do you want me to tell you where you can shove idle?

SKYNET T001 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44512763)

Lol @ the SyNAPSE processor, SKYNET here we come! well at least before we reach that point DARPA can pimp their new toy out to the NSA and the rest of the 3 letter agencies to help them read through everyones emails, texts, search entries lol

Sorry its not the most insightful comment on such an interesting subject, but seriously what do we all think a machine like this will end up doing? Pure science for benefit of all or will it further help to keep those who pay for it intrenched in even more power.

Re:SKYNET T001 (2)

ImdatS (958642) | about a year ago | (#44512777)

Actually, the idea is to understand two things, which we still don't know how they work:

1) The brain itself - how does it work, how does it process information
2) More important: what is the relation between brain and "mind" - is "mind" created in the brain or is the brain the mind. More relevant for humans is "consciousness": does the consciousness inform when a complex-enough brain is created or how does it exist?

I'm not sure this project will get closer to answering Q2, but it will probably help in bringing us one step closer to answer Q1.

Re:SKYNET T001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513497)

Funded by DARPA. There's a military or dictatorship angle in there somewhere...perhaps...towards accurate predictive models of the 30 minute delay between initial decision formation and action...???

Suddenly the cognitive research stuff isn't that interesting any more

I no longer trust nor celebrate anything coming from the military, spooks, Google, MS, Apple etc.

Re:SKYNET T001 (1)

ImdatS (958642) | about a year ago | (#44513581)

Funded by DARPA. There's a military or dictatorship angle in there somewhere...perhaps...towards accurate predictive models of the 30 minute delay between initial decision formation and action...???

In fact, I cannot judge what it will be used for and I wonder myself why DARPA is financing something like this. But then again, I wasn't sure about other DARPA fundings either.

Yes, DARPA might have sinister motives, but I would definitely like to understand how the brain works and how "mind" and "consciousness" is created (either in the brain or ... ) - but, as you say, perhaps there's something more to it than we can anticipate at the moment wrt DARPA...

Re:SKYNET T001 (2)

ImdatS (958642) | about a year ago | (#44513613)

... and to add: I would *really* like to know if there is a way to actively and consciously use the brain's subconscious ability to perform 0.2 - 2 ExaFLOPS. If we could consciously harness that ability, we wouldn't need any computer at all.

Maybe by understanding how the brain and consciousness/subconsciousness works, we could harness that - but I think, it's just wishful thinking...

First task (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44512799)

Re:First task (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44513261)

They've already found the problem: Doing buisness with the Austrailian Government.

Three steps forward the two backward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44512895)

We perhaps evolved from something to become smarter. Then developed tools, the computer to enhance our ability to deal with mountains of data. Now lets create a brain-in-a box, as-if we don't have enough cluless fucken brains kept in the dark now!

The goal is to create "a brain in a box." (4, Funny)

sehlat (180760) | about a year ago | (#44512905)

They've already done that. They call the boxes cubicles.

Not greedy, unlike others (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44513103)

Ok, whoever transcends first, I want a technomagic ring that keeps me alive, fit, and young, with control panel so I can change my body. And, ummm, I guess a hundred mile wide orgy arena with McDonald's and Starbuck's all around it.

Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514781)

Sex with a buncha jittery fat people is what every fetishist wants :)

A bit of a misnomer (1)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#44513379)

To say they're trying to recreate a brain in a box is a bit of misnomer. They're not trying to recreate the forgetfulness, random irrelevant thoughts, and other such aspects of a human brain.

Then again, maybe those random thoughts are an important part of cognition. If one follows up on those random ideas, new concepts can be born of the misfiring synapses.

Synapses Don't Empower Memory (1)

Jhyrryl (208418) | about a year ago | (#44513597)

...replicates how the human brain works, in that each "neurosynaptic core" has its own memory ("synapses")...

Synapses are the space between neurons wherein chemical interactions communicate impulses from one neuron to another. They have nothing to do with memory, of which we are currently aware.

Re:Synapses Don't Empower Memory (2)

glueball (232492) | about a year ago | (#44514405)

Synapses most definitely have to do with memory, although the synapse is not where the memory resides. Sensitize or desensitize receptors will have affect memory performance. Read about cocaine studies on short term memory.

Re:Synapses Don't Empower Memory (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44514419)

Actually, IIRC one of the best guesses as to how the brain stores information is in the pattern and weighting of synapses - neuron A gets energized by some combination of firings of the thousands of incoming synapses, plus its own internal memory/processing, and it fires as appropriate. AFAIK the details are one of those things that keeps getting more complicated the closer we look.

Hierarchical seems wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513667)


I'm not sure the brain has this wiring constraint. For example you can think hierarchically about folks who live in specific cities. Then think about Bob in Boston being friends with George in Georgia. If things are hierarchical, then it would be hard to represent (think about) this friend relationship between two folks down inside two different city hierarchies. And if Bob likes red cars then thinking about other folks who like red cars would be hard. But it's not, in fact, this recategorizing things is stuff we do all the time.

It seems like the brain is more flat with related (interconnected) concepts. (For this brain, perhaps more randomly related concepts.) If you use a complex corelet stack to package (ie hide the complexity down inside) a complex concept, then how do you reach down into the packaged stack to connect a facet of the concept to something else?

FPGA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44514557)

Looks like a big grid of hooked together LUTs (look up tables). That is also whats in FPGAs. How is this different?

Probably my next first line manager (1)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#44514701)

And so what? Likely to have more human warmth

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44517059)

IBM sucking the life out of clients like FedEx, Hilton, StateFarm, several state and federal agencies, etc is likely paying for this bogus adventure..

Just trying to distract from all the lawsuits that are flowing freely against their fraud!

Hey IBMers, how's that Sage thing working out? .. ya know that project engagement tool that amount to nothing more than a random number generator..

I obviously call major BS!

Brain in a box (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | about a year ago | (#44518569)

Is this a new variation to the Schrodinger's cat problem?

We need a good model of the brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44518685)

This is not going to be of much use unless we have a good model of how the brain works. I believe we have enough hardware power to simulate a brain; The software has to catch up.

Our end goal is to create a brain in a box, (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year ago | (#44519789)

yeah you and everyone else who has ever pursued strong AI. And? And? And so what you're as far away from that as anyone else is. This is the same hype that went around about neural nets some decades ago . So you brought a SHARPENED flint rock to the nuclear armed war this time. And?

There are parts of the human brain the size of your fist we know about as much as we did the heart when we finally figured out hey *it's a pump ! *.

Apparently only holy grail level aspirations are lofty enough to inspire researchers.

Utterances as macho and vaporish as this guy's are deserving of their own "Cock In a Box" style mockery : []

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