IBM develop 'human brain' computer chip

Adam Parris-Long

IBM has unveiled a new set of computer chips that could emulate processes of the human brain.

The ‘cognitive computers’ built with these chips are designed to replicate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition- meaning that they can “learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember – and learn from – the outcomes,” IBM say.

The jump in microprocessor sophistication is still in the experimental stages but could develop computer systems to understand human behavior as well as record environmental measurements and issue disaster warnings ahead of time.

IBM says that the retail industry could also benefit from the research as chips integrated into instrumented gloves could “monitor sights, smells, texture and temperature to flag bad or contaminated produce”.

“These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government,” said IBM Research project leader, Dharmendra Modha.

“Imagine traffic lights that can integrate sights, sounds and smells and flag unsafe intersections before disaster happens or imagine cognitive co-processors that turn servers, laptops, tablets, and phones into machines that can interact better with their environments,” he added.

IBM and its academic partners have been given a $21m (£12.7m) grant by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to further develop the generation of chips currently being tested in New York and California.