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back to article Big Blue to build DARPA cat-brain machine

US military attempts to develop "programmable neuromorphic" electronic artificial mouse- and cat-bonce brain podules have now moved into gear, with IBM scooping a $5m contract award. One need hardly specify that the Pentagon office overseeing the Tom'n'Jerryputer push is DARPA, that reassuring rock of madness in an often …

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Go

Wrong spec

As usual for a Govt operation

They're actually just after the computing power - or rather the computing methodology

If they actually replicate a mammalian brain it is likely to have the same problems for them as a mammalian brain (emotion, individual thought process, self-preservation etc)

Someone should tell DARPA that they have to think outside the box ocassionally

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Ian
Go

'Bonkers bad-boy battle boffins'

Outstanding. I'll have a pint of whatever Lewis is drinking.

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Happy

Lewis - a tip for you, mate - less caffeine

"bonkers bad-boy battle boffins"

Put the coffee down and step away.

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Heart

"bonkers bad-boy battle boffins"

I love el reg.

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Step 0.1

Before emulating a mouse brain they should try something a little less ambitious, perhaps a brain that starts wars against random countries for randomly generated reasons.

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Black Helicopters

How...

... do I get a job at DARPA?

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Flame

There's a better solution!

Why don't they bypass the intelligent life forms and take brains from Messrs Brand and Ross? They're obviously not using them right now and there's no real evidence of prior use..

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thinking out of the box

Or, according, in part to the title...dare they think outside of the box, or in the box...should we open the box to see if they're thinking or merely assume that the thought is dead

In fact is the thought dead or alive, or both? Maybe they should call it the Schrodinger's Cat Brain and then it can potentially be very clever indeed.....

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Coat

Mouse or Cat brain?

Surely if they want something that's got the brain capacity of a mouse or a cat, they should just ask GW Bush what he's doing after January?

...or buy a cat.

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Paris Hilton

brain specs

As long as they only develop male-based synapse systems - wouldn't want war systems to randomly through tantrums, get headaches, etc. I can just imagine the argument "yes, but just because I killed them, doesn't mean that I meant to kill them... I meant to kill someone on the other team but what I mean and what I do are completely different" (obviously I've inserted some male logic there).

Flame on

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Out of the box, off the trolley, and time out of mind

The facts of AI already show the prejudice that will prevent them succeeding here also.

Tho the brain "thinks", it is not the only place that thought occurs. For example, we've all seen boy racers whose dicks control the throttle. We've seen whole newspapers (Grauniad) catering to people who feel with their skin (same prejudice - different organ). We've seen astronauts who "smell" space, and remember their childhoods. We've seen clinically brain-dead people on hospital tables come back to life and give full and accurate reports on the proceedings in theatre which occurred while their brains were incapable of forming memories.

What neural networks show, is that once "entrained", they remain prejudiced.

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60s science fiction

Anyone familiar with Cordwainer Smith's SF stories from the 60s will remember his starships were controlled by "two c.c's of laminated mouse brain". Why use synthetic substitutes when you can just laminate the real thing?

[I want both Stop and Go icons because his starships had a Go Captain *and* a Stop Captain.]

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Oh heavens, hardly difficult is it!

Moggy Brain Rules Draft 1

( If it's anything like the fat lazy item living in my house, that purports to be a cat! )

1. Anyone about? No, then sleep otherwise keep rubbing against owner until food/petting is given.

2. If food is not forthcoming within 10 mins of meowing and rubbing, fart loudly and very smelly, start licking genitals in full view of everyone, until they give in.

3. Every 7 days, kill something small and defenceless and leave it in its death throws on the kitchen mat.

4 Every 6 months, pickup nasty flea infection, but don't notify owner until owner has been scratching for 2 days. Ensure owner panics and has to clean house from top to bottom ( that'll teach them to delay the food/petting! )

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Bronze badge

"That would of course include Einstein ..."

Perhaps they should briefly consider the implications of a bit of top-down design to model Kurt Gödel.

@ Ian. Me too please.

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Paris Hilton

Tosh.

A cat, for instance, can jump up onto a fence using only binocular vision...

So can a one-eyed cat looking the other way - proprioception is a much bigger factor than vision - and in mammals even the latter is highly flawed theory in its infancy.

What you're describing here is impossible, its not a question of computing power - cognitive neuroscience is years, likely decades, away from the understanding required to model PH's brain let alone a cats.

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Paris Hilton

bugger ...

why are all the best jobs at DARPA ?

If they do create artificial intelligence, then maybe they could get it to run the world capitalist economy, it couldn't do any worse than the current bunch of muppets.

Of course such a machine would only employ other machines, and might ask you for your boots and motorcycle (Arnie style) , so we'd probably all still be unemployed and thus screwed.

Paris , well because they will have to emulate her level of processing, just before they get to rodent level.

Einsteinian level is way off in the future .........

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Silver badge

Can you tell me

How much processing power is required to lick your own arse whilst purring?

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Black Helicopters

Entire Range of Mammalian Intelligence

Presumably that means their ultimate goal is to make it as smart as a human. But why stop there?

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Assumptions

"A cat, for instance, can jump up onto a fence using only binocular vision; a computer able to take stereoscopic vid and accomplish the same feat with four robotic legs would be so heavy as to crush the fence..."

Come on, Lewis - I expect better. You don't specify the fence! Surely a robotic fence-jumper could safely land on a reinforced cement fence that's 8" thick.

Now, if you'd said, "picket fence", or "chainlink fence", or "eBay fence", that would have been different.

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Problem is...

A machine with feline intelligence would ignore everyone, and sleep in the most comfortable spot in the room.

What's really needed is a machine with canine intelligence - then the police could use it to chase cars.

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Gold badge

@Chris G

Probably not a lot. The clever bit is to lick someone else immediately afterwards and have them like you for it. That takes Machiavellian ingenuity, an empathic appreciation of your target's state of mind and some careful planning to get right.

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Bronze badge

But which cat?

I have, over the years, had dealings with some cats I would trust to run a laser-wielding battle-droid.

And, it should be noted, cute pre-teen girls seem to have special talents in cat-handling.

Has DARPA been bit-torrenting a bit too much of the weirder sort of Japanese animation?

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Yeah

now we rule the planet, why not emulate predators whose skills were formed by 25 million years of evolution in impenetrable steel? Make them 25 foot high, will you? While you're at it, be sure to add some frikkin lasers to their heads.

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Dead Vulture

Not quite that big

"Likewise, a human can drive a car in traffic - and so can a computer, perhaps. But that computer currently weighs more than 200 tons and requires power levels typical of a warship, not a car."

The ones in the DARPA Urban challenge http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/04/cmu_wins_urban_challenge/ weren't quite that big, although still no where near as good as a human.

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@Jonathon Keith

Here: http://www.darpa.mil/hrd/

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Coat

Is that Skylab?

This is the first step in creating skylab!

When are we going to learn....... PHZzzzzzzz ...

Oh heck, here comes another T1000

B.

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Black Helicopters

Not so much "Sky" as "plummet"

Perhaps you mean "SkyNet"? There's at least one military initiative already in progress* with that very name. Whether the project's naming committee has a sense of irony sufficiently strong to risk professional ridicule or whether they just hadn't seen any Terminator pop-Kulcha moving pichoors is unknown.

* I think it's a British Army/MoD comms initiative, involving satellites and long endurance UAVs...

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Stop

Think of the Children

For the love of god why isn't this under ROTM, this is simply the beginning watch as this thing learns and then comes to dislike us what are we unleashing.

I for one welcome our new Robotic overlords

gets coat.

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@ Lewis Page

Let me ask you something. Does El Reg give a course on colorful descriptions for DARPA? Cus if they do I need to make a recommendation that you pass said course with flying colors. That was brilliant.

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