IBM Invents Computer Chips That Act Like Brains. But will zombies find them irresistibly yummy? Excerpt:
Computers, like humans, can learn. But when Google tries to fill in your search box based only on a few keystrokes, or your iPhone predicts words as you type a text message, it’s only a narrow mimicry of what the human brain is capable.
The challenge in training a computer to behave like a human brain is technological and physiological, testing the limits of computer and brain science. But researchers from IBM Corp. say they’ve made a key step toward combining the two worlds.
The company announced Thursday that it has built two prototype chips that it says process data more like how humans digest information than the chips that now power PCs and supercomputers.
The chips represent a significant milestone in a six-year-long project that has involved 100 researchers and some $41 million in funding from the government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. IBM has also committed an undisclosed amount of money.
The prototypes offer further evidence of the growing importance of “parallel processing,” or computers doing multiple tasks simultaneously. That is important for rendering graphics and crunching large amounts of data.
I’ve long wondered what would happen if a computer were to ever achieve sentience, self-awareness. What would that computer be then? Would is still be just a machine? Would it have obligations, duties? Morals? A personality?
It’s an interesting problem to consider.
One non-computer story: Before Leviathan. An interesting piece of the evolution of baleen whales. No zombies. Excerpt:
The biggest animals on Earth–the biggest animals to have ever lived, in fact–are baleen whales. They can grow to over 100 feet long thanks in part to their ability to snarf colossal amounts of food. To do so, they swing open their toothless lower jaws, which inflate like a parachute with water. Then they haul their lower jaw shut again and then use a titanic tongue to push out a school bus worth of water through a filter. The filter is baleen: a set of fronds that hangs from their upper jaws. They trap shrimp and other tiny creatures in the baleen, which the whales then swallow before preparing for the next gulp. Each one of these operations can snag a blue whale up to half a million calories.
Happy Thor’s Day, True Believers. More as events warrant.