[LINK] IBM simulate a "brain" with 500 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses

Recent article in The New Yorker:


Here is the research report from IBM, with the simple title "10^14":


It's nothing like a real brain simulation, of course, but illustrates that hardware to do this is getting very close. 

There is likely to be quite a long overhang between the hardware and the software...


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I think important caveats need to be kept in mind. From the New Yorker article:

I.B.M.’s Compass has more neurons than any system previously built, but it still doesn’t do anything with all those neurons. The short report published on the new system is full of vital statistics—how many neurons, how fast they run—but there’s not a single experiment to test the system’s cognitive capacities. It’s sort of like having the biggest set of Lego blocks in town without a clue of what to make out of them. The real art is not in buying the Legos but in knowing how to put them together. Until we have a deeper understanding of the brain, giant arrays of idealized neurons will tell us less than we might have hoped.

Thanks for this. The latest research report 10^14 already appears to be a significant update on that paper.

IBM now report roughly eight times as many simulated neurons and synapses, while the slow-down has gone from ~400x real-time to ~1500x real time. That works out at a factor > 2 in hardware improvement within a matter of months. They are using a custom hardware architecture and presumably there are still a lot of optimisations to be made. It can't be very long before this can run in real time.

As said in other comments, nobody knows how to program this yet...

The paper seems to indicate that the sim is running 388 times slower than real-time. I guess we're not 100% there hardware-wise yet? Good.

I actually never heard about non-von Neumann architectures. Anybody has some tip on a good source on this? Especially how this relates to biological brain architectures? Thank you!

It's nothing like a real brain simulation, of course, but illustrates that hardware to do this is getting very close.

They simulate model neurons. Those neurons they are less complex than the real neurons that we have in our head. The way in which real neurons change the amount of ion channels on their membrane for long-term plasticity is neither fully understood nor easy to simulate.

We have no idea how neurons actually work.

We have no idea how brains actually work.

We have no idea what consciousness is, how it works, or even if it does exist.

If you do not know how a radio works or how a transistor works or what the knobs and dials actually do and cannot even build a simulation of how one might work you are in no danger of building the ultimate radio to rule all others.

Having a bad idea does not make you closer to having a good idea.