IBM one step closer the “The Technological Singularity”

Armonk, N.Y. – IBM announced a new step in processing technology, as they revealed their Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project which is about experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

In a sharp departure from traditional concepts in designing and building computers, IBM’s first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry. Its first two prototype chips have already been fabricated and are currently undergoing testing.

The goal of SyNAPSE  is to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment – all while rivaling the brain’s compact size and low power usage. The IBM team has already successfully completed Phases 0 and 1

They also announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investing $21 million in phase 2 of this project. For science, ofcourse, not to build some ultra-smart weapon out of it, because that would be stupid.


IBM’s SyNAPSE project leader Dharmendra Modha  states: “This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century. Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture. These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government.”

Unlike OCP’s RoboCop project, these chips contain no biological elements. While this bodes well for using these chips in elevators, without making them too murderous, the technology does borrow a lot from the structure of organic brains and use digital silicon circuits inspired by neurobiology to make up what is referred to as a “neurosynaptic core” with integrated memory (replicated synapses), computation (replicated neurons) and communication (replicated axons.)

RoboCop is just so 1987…

The two prototypes where fabricated in 45 nm SOI-CMOS and contain 256 neurons. One core contains 262,144 programmable synapses and the other contains 65,536 learning synapses. The IBM team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.

For Phase 2 of SyNAPSE, IBM has assembled a world-class multi-dimensional team of researchers and collaborators to achieve these ambitious goals. The team includes Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin, Madison. While this is a large team, none of it’s members seem to have seen any movie about artificial intelligences destroying humanity, even while the list of these movies is nearly endless. Also, one of the more prominent killer AIs, HAL9000 got it’s name by taking each letter from IBM and replacing it with the one before it in the alphabet.

Read more about the project here.

Read about the Technological Signularity here.