A new kind of programming language modelled on the functions of the human brain is being created by IBM’s Silicon Valley researchers led by computer scientist Dharmendra Modha. Still in it’s early stages the project’s focus is on recreating biological intelligence. The software enables computers to perceive and understand their surroundings in sophisticated ways such as identifying colour and distinguishing between sounds. The applications allow computers to discern subtleties and respond instantly.
To support the software IBM have begun work on a new kind of hardware based on the structure of the human brain. The current hardware structure comprising a central processor, memory system and storage has been discarded by the company in favour of a structure modeled on the human brain. The new chip, named the neurosynaptic core, integrates processor, memory and communications, mimicking the neurons and synapses in the brain.
The team foresees the technology being used to provide headsets for the blind or visually impaired. The headsets will use sensors to detect obstacles and aid the wearer in navigating their surroundings. It could also be employed as a solar-powered device floating on the sea and detecting oil spills. In business, it could offer enhanced decision-making capabilities, helping to solve difficult problems.
Until now, computing capabilities have been significantly stronger than humans in terms of methodical processing handling large amounts of data. However the human capacity for creative and adaptive thinking has not been matched in the technological realm. Peter Cochrane, a futurologist and analyst at Cochrane Associates observes that “We are trying to deal with an increasingly complex and chaotic world with biological brains that are fundamentally unsuited to the task. We can only deal with three to five variable/topics/tasks at a time – yet we live in a world where we are often faced with hundreds.”
The new systems created at IBM could offer essential assistance in dealing with our increasingly fast-paced and evolving environment. However they do not possess defining biological qualities such as instinct, intuition and emotion states. Cochrane suggests that for us to cope in the changing modern landscape and to prosper as we enter the future and evolve then we need to create a seamless and complementary relationship with our machines.
This article was first published on Reality Sandwich.com