Thursday, December 03, 2009

HAL's bells: IBM makes 'thinking computer' breakthrough

Not there yet...but the tech-boffins are scurrying to get closer to the Tech-Holy-Grail... here's the latest over at IBM:

Scientists say they've made a breakthrough in their pursuit of computers that "think" like a living thing's brain - an effort that tests the limits of technology.Even the world's most powerful supercomputers can't replicate basic aspects of the human mind. The machines can't imagine a wall painted a different colour, for instance, or picture a person's face and connect that to an emotion.

If researchers can make computers operate more like a brain thinks - by reasoning and dealing with abstractions, among other things - they could unleash tremendous insights in such diverse fields as medicine and economics.A computer with the power of a human brain is not yet near.But this week researchers from IBM are reporting that they've simulated a cat's cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain, using a massive supercomputer.The computer has 147,456 processors (most modern PCs have just one or two processors) and 144 terabytes of main memory - 100,000 times as much as your computer has.

The scientists had previously simulated 40 per cent of a mouse's brain in 2006, a rat's full brain in 2007, and 1 per cent of a human's cerebral cortex this year, using progressively bigger supercomputers.The latest feat, being presented at a supercomputing conference in Portland, Oregon, doesn't mean the computer thinks like a cat, or that it is the progenitor of a race of robo-cats.The simulation, which runs 100 times slower than an actual cat's brain, is more about watching how thoughts are formed in the brain and how the roughly one billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses in a cat's brain work together.

Read more at - 'HAL's bells: IBM makes 'thinking computer' breakthrough'

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