Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The cat brain simulator. Game over?

I used to say that the day we had a computer roughly as smart as a hamster would be a good day to take the family on the holiday you've always dreamed of.

Today, two articles, both, oddly, from The Register (emphases mine) ...

... IBM said it has already simulated a cat-sized cerebral cortex — the area of the brain that's key to memory, attention, and consciousness — using a massive Blue Gene supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

This feline-scale cortical simulation, which was made with the help of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, included 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses. The simulation ran 100 to 1,000 times slower than real-time, said Dharmendra Modha, manager of IBM's Cognitive Computing unit at its Almaden Research Center, in a blog post.

and from a completely different direction ...

... According to Dean’s presentation, Google is intent on scaling Spanner to between one million and 10 million servers, encompassing 10 trillion (1013) directories and a quintillion (1018) bytes of storage....
The simulation, presumably, is not actually doing any cat like things. It merely represents a substrate upon which cat like intellect might operate.

So maybe the next step to the hamster-equivalent AI will be long, my prediction of singularity 2100 will hold, Kurzweil will be indeed wrong about 2045, and we really should worry about carbon emissions.

Or maybe not. In which case I hope Kashmir becomes peaceful quickly as I'd like to visit the Lakes before it's too late.

Oh, what does this have to do with Google Spanner? I'll leave that as an exercise.

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