Thursday, March 25, 2010

IBM Simulates a Cat-Like Brain: AI or Shadow Minds for Humans?

IBM's Almaden Research Center have announced that they had produced a "cortical simulation" of the scale and complexity of a cat brain.

This simulation ran on one of IBM's "Blue Gene" supercomputers, in this case at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

This isn't a simulation of a cat brain, it's a simulation of a brain structure that has the scale and connection complexity of a cat brain.

It doesn't include the actual structures of a cat brain, nor its actual connections; the various experiments in the project filled the memory of the cortical simulation with a bunch of data, and let the system create its own signals and connections.

Put simply, it's not an artificial (feline) intelligence, it's a platform upon which an A(F)I could conceivably be built.

Scientists, at IBM Research - Almaden, in collaboration with colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, have performed the first near real-time cortical simulation of the brain that exceeds the scale of a cat cortex and contains 1 billion spiking neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses.

Ultimately, this is a very interesting development, both for the obvious reasons (an artificial cat brain!) and because of its associated "Blue Matter" project, which uses supercomputers and magnetic resonance to non-invasively map out brain structures and connections.

The cortical sim is intended, in large part, to serve as a test-bed for the maps gleaned by the Blue Matter analysis. The combination could mean taking a reading of a brain and running the shadow mind in a box.

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