Simulation of human brain getting closer…

The Durf.org blog asks how long until we get artificial brains capable of replacing human translators, if ever:

On the other hand, though, if the scientists ever crack this mystery wide open (perhaps by giving up on computers with nothing but 0s and 1s to deal with and creating new machines that function more like a brain) then we’ll get our translating machine.

Well, IBM has created a cell-by-cell simulation of the human visual cortex. At 1.6 billion neurons, this is a huge leap from their simulation of a portion of a mouse cortex in 2006, and an entire rat cortex in 2007 (55 million neurons), so they seem to be making pretty rapid progress.

The main question seems to be whether Moore's Law will keep going until they get up to a complete human brain.

2 comments to Simulation of human brain getting closer…

  • Michael Turner

    Ryan, you missed how the machine simulates at 1/600th real-time. Toward the end of the article, there’s an estimate that running a human brain simulation at real-time speed would cost $1b/year in electricity bills alone. And that’s if and when the hardware is available under a Moore’s Law projection — requiring another ten doublings for the same — very high — hardware cost.

    If machine translation is in fact a desirable goal, I don’t see total human brain simulation as a very likely way to make it economical within our lifetimes.

  • @Michael

    I did note the speed of the simulation, but I don’t think that’s important — or rather, it’s more a symptom of the two main hurdles: power consumption and heat output. The main reason that the simulation runs so slowly is that they used older chips, which run slower but generate less heat.

    So in order for Moore’s Law (broadly interpreted) to continue, they’ll either have to overcome these obstacles in silicon chips, or come up with new computing substrates that do so.

    “””
    If machine translation is in fact a desirable goal, I don’t see total human brain simulation as a very likely way to make it economical within our lifetimes.
    “””

    I’d say it’s a very desirable goal, just maybe not for us translators. :)

    Although brain simulation may not be the only or even best way of achieving general AI, it’s the only sure way so far, as far as I know.

    I’ve written about this before, but as I see it playing out, we do get AI in our lifetimes, but at first it’s so expensive that it’s not cost effective to use it on translation and the like. But then, as the cost inevitably comes down, AI takes over every facet of human labor. Of course modulo Moore’s Law ending, end of humanity, etc. :)

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