IBM Creates Blue Matter from Grey

IBM announced today at the SC09 supercomputing conference that they have made "significant progress toward creating a computer system that simulates and emulates the brain’s abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition, while rivaling the brain’s low power and energy consumption and compact size."

BlueMatter, a new algorithm created in collaboration with Stanford University, exploits the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture in order to noninvasively measure and map the connections between all cortical and sub-cortical locations within the human brain using magnetic resonance diffusion weighted imaging. Mapping the wiring diagram of the brain is crucial to untangling its vast communication network and understanding how it represents and processes information.

The program is part of DARPA’s SyNAPSE initiative to build elecronic components to minic the brain. Now, normally I would file this as an advance in human progress. After all, if we can simulate our brain, then we can build upon it, enhance it, make it stronger, faster. In this case, however, the DARPA angle and the timing of it all puts this development squarely in the hands of the coming robot uprising.

The inevitabile advent of human scale simulation as one SyNAPSE paper has put it, is on track for realization within the next decade. (See graph) Unfortunately for us this is much faster than the advances in our ability to transfer consciousness to these devices. Currently those advances are limited to basic BCI and prosthetic development. We need to do more than move a mouse and pick up marshmallows people! Otherwise a strong AI will come about long before we have the ability to use it, and with that AI in the hands of DARPA, you can bet it will know how to kill humans long before it knows how to help them.

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