The era where computers can actually learn like a human brain may be closer than you think. Venture Beat reports that IBM, who recently got its super computer Watson to successfully play in the TV game show Jeopardy, has announced it is working on a design for a new computer chip that will emulate how the human brain handles information. The project to create what IBM is calling cognitive computing chips is being worked on with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as well as a number of universities.
In a real sense, most computers are not much more than very fast and powerful calculators that can handle math well. IBM's new approach is to create a chip that have analogs to the human brain's neurons, synapses and axons. Some of the advantages of this kind of approach are that computers made with these chips can be made to work on much low power compared to the normal PC chips.
The story says that the projects have created two prototypes of the kinds of chips they have designed. The next step is to create an actual computer running on these new kinds of processors. IBM's ultimate goal is to create a computer with the design that has 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, which is even more powerful than the human brain. Yet that same computer would use just one kilowatt of power and be put in a space about the size of the human brain. Could we see Commander Data come out of this project at some point?