AI Redefined: IBM’s TrueNorth gives renewed competition to the Human Brain

New York City, New York – (StockNewsDesk) – 08/12/2014 — International Business Machines has been on the frontlines of computational technology for more than a decade. After agreeing on a business deal with Apple, IBM has now developed a computer chip which it says will function like a human brain in a giant step forward for artificial intelligence. The computer chip is called ‘TrueNorth’ and is being hailed as the world’s first neurosynaptic computer chip because it can figure things out on its own. It also has one million ‘neurons’ and could cram the same power as a supercomputer into a circuit the size of a postage stamp.

Experts suggest that it is a huge advancement in the quest for building smart computers, comparing the jump to being as big as the advent of supercomputers in the 1980s. Modern processors have some 1.4 billion transistors and consume up to 140 watts, but the IBM chip contains a remarkable 5.4 billion transistors and uses just 70 milliwatts of power, making it incredibly efficient, way beyond conventional levels of power consumption. TrueNorth has taken a note from the human brain by using closely interconnected ‘neurons’, meaning that it can work proactively and sets a whole new level of parallel processing. TrueNorth also has the accolade of having the most number of neurons or transistors that IBM has ever put in a chip.

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In comparison, the human brain has 100 billion neurons and up to 150 trillion synapses, but IBM principal investigator and senior manager Dharmendra Modha said that it could still perform a wide variety of tasks. TrueNorth is giving birth to a new form of artificial intelligence. He suggested that TrueNorth could be used to monitor oil spills or issue tsunami alerts on its own, without the need for a human to keep track of things, which would significantly minimize response time. Perhaps these advancements can be compared to the minimization of Apollo 11 spacecraft technology into a digital watch. If a robot today was walking towards a pillar, then it needed a huge amount of computing to keep it from heading into it, but a robot using TrueNorth would be able to sense the pillar and change direction, just like a human. Computers were fast approaching a stage of stagnation, but with this advent, computers now have a new horizon to wake up to, where they may be considered smarter than humans in more ways than ever before. Earlier in 2014, a computer program passed the Turing Test for the first time, which is seen as a major milestone in artificial technology.


The chip took more than a decade to make and is the product of a research effort called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE). The program obtained $53.5 million in funding from the US Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Even still, the IBM chip is a far cry from a human brain, which contains about 86 trillion neurons and 100 trillion synapses.

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