IBM unveils chip modeled after human brain

August 18, 2011 8:19:04 PM PDT
Computers are one step closer to thinking the way people do. Researchers at IBM on Thursday unveiled a new chip they say is modeled after the human brain.

"Imagine a computer that can be taught in the same way that you would teach a dog; good dog, bad dog," cognitive computing manager Dharmendra Modha said.

Modha might call it his "brain" child.

"We have produced in working silicon a tiny, tiny chip that encompasses the core elements of the brain," Dharmendra Modha said.

Modha says it is the missing piece to the puzzle of modern computing.

Computers have always been good at crunching numbers and following orders, like the left side of the human brain, but not so good at recognizing patterns or making predictions, like the right side of the brain. Until now.

Researcher John Arthur showed ABC7 how the new chip can play the video game Pong just by looking at the screen.

"As the ball moves, the neurons here see the ball," Arthur said.

They've also trained it to read hand-written numbers and predict which one a person is drawing.

The technology is still in its infancy, but the applications could be far reaching -- everything from detecting threats at airport security to sniffing out rotten food at the grocery store.

Six years ago, the project started as one man's dream, but now a team of 100 people has proven it can work.

"Our fundamental perspective has changed from 'what if' to 'what now,'" Modha said.


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