Home Science Biology IBM scientists 'purrfect' computer that thinks like a cat

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Researchers at the International Business Machines Corporation announced that they have built a computer that simulated the cerebral cortex--the thinking part of the brain--of a cat.  What's next? A human? Yes!


The IBM scientists presented on Wednesday, November 18, 2009, at the SuperComputing conference 2009 (SC09) in Portland, Oregon, information about the computer, which is located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The IBM computer contains 147,456 processors and 144 terabytes of main memory.

Although the computer is about one hundred times slower than a cat’s brain, it still is able to simulate the approximately one billion neurons and ten trillion synapses in a cat’s brain.

Dharmendra Modha is the manager of cognitive computing for IBM Research.

As co-author of the paper reporting this latest accomplishment of IBM, Modha has called the computer a “truly unprecedented scale of simulation.” [Associated Press: “IBM takes a (feline) step toward thinking machines”]

The “cognitive computing” computer made by IBM is able to analyze data even if the data is incomplete. It can piece together information and make a decision as to what it is analyzing. Thus, it is not limited by just data already stored in its memory.

In the AP article, the author quotes the IBM scientist: “Modha says a simulation of a human cortex could come within the next decade if Moore's Law holds. That's the rule of thumb that the number of transistors on a computer chip tends to double every two years.”

For additional information on the announcement of the cat-brain computer, check out the IBM press release “IBM Moves Closer To Creating Computer Based on Insights From The Brain.”

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University

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