IBM has created a prototype chip that mimics the workings of the human brain, simulating synapses, neurons, and axons in the hopes of creating a computer that can learn and think, the company announced today. So far these “cognitive computing chips” have only been put to simple tasks like navigation and pattern recognition, but someday they may be able to accomplish feats of analysis today’s computers could never manage, the AFP reports.
A sufficiently advanced intelligence using the chips could, for example, predict tsunamis by monitoring a vast array of weather and water sensors. IBM is “taking the architecture of the brain and saying, 'Can we somehow make the electronics mimic what we know about the brain, how the brain works,” one expert explained. “It’s a new frontier.” IBM’s long-term goal is to create a supercomputer with 10 billion “neurons” that runs on just one kilowatt of power and is two liters or less in volume.