Future Tense

The Dawn of Cognitive Computing

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Today IBM is unveiling two new experimental chips that it hopes will form the basis of a vanguard approach to computing, dubbed “cognitive computing” because it attempts to mimic the way the human brain functions. The Wall Street Journal explains, “The eventual goal is to make machines that can more closely emulate the way humans perceive, learn and take action–using much less space and energy than powerful conventional computers.”

According to Venture Beat, the chips have no biological material but are modeled on the human brain: “This new computing unit, or core, … has ‘neurons,’ or digital processors that compute information. It has ‘synapses’ which are the foundation of learning and memory. And it has ‘axons,’ or data pathways that connect the tissue of the computer.”

IBM, DARPA, Cornell, the University of Wisconsin, University of California-Merced, and Columbia have been working on this project since 2008. With the prototype chips completed, the next step is to build a computer. One researcher tells Venture Beat, “If this works, this is not just a 5 percent leap. … This is a leap of orders of magnitude forward.”

Read more on the Wall Street Journal and Venture Beat.