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DARPA Seeks to Mimic in Silicon the Mammalian Brain


The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded contracts for the first stage of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) initiative, which aims to produce electronic systems that work like mammalian brains. The project's goal is to produce a chip that mimics how mammalian brains function, which could lead to machines capable of autonomously processing information in real-world environments. "If we succeed in manifesting this technology into reality, we could deploy computer systems that can deal with ambiguity and use a wide range of both biological and non-biological sensors to act the way the brain does," says IBM's cognitive computing initiative manager Dharmendra Modha. IBM is working with several universities on SyNAPSE. In modern computers, the processor and the memory are separated and performance is limited by how fast data can be shuffled between the two, but in the brain the synapse represents both memory and function, Modha says, thus eliminating a key processing bottleneck. The SyNAPSE project aims to replicate that structure. Modha says that recent developments in neuroscience, supercomputers, and nanotechnology could make SyNAPSE successful.

From Defense Systems
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