New Ways of Thinking - IBM SyNAPSE

Beyond machines
For more than half a century, computers have been little better than calculators with storage structures and programmable memory, a model that scientists have continually aimed to improve.
Comparatively, the human brain—the world's most sophisticated computer—can perform complex tasks rapidly and accurately using the same amount of energy as a 20 watt light bulb in a space equivalent to a 2 liter soda bottle.

Cognitive computing: thought for the future
Making sense of real-time input flowing in at a dizzying rate is a Herculean task for today's computers, but would be natural for a brain-inspired system. Using advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry, cognitive computers learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember—and learn from—the outcomes.
For example, a cognitive computing system monitoring the world's water supply could contain a network of sensors and actuators that constantly record and report metrics such as temperature, pressure, wave height, acoustics and ocean tide, and issue tsunami warnings based on its decision making.

Meeting of the minds
Researchers at IBM have been working on a cognitive computing project called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE). By reproducing the structure and architecture of the brain—the way its elements receive sensory input, connect to each other, adapt these connections, and transmit motor output—the SyNAPSE project models computing systems that emulate the brain's computing efficiency, size and power usage without being programmed.
IBM is combining principles from nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing as part of a multi-year cognitive computing initiative. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded approximately US$21 million in new funding from for phase 2 of the SyNAPSE project. For this project, a world-class, multi-dimensional team has been assembled, consisting of IBM researchers and collaborators from Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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