Feeds

back to article ARM daddy simulates human brain with million-chip super

While everyone in the IT racket is trying to figure out how many Intel Xeon and Atom chips can be replaced by ARM processors, Steve Furber, the main designer of the 32-bit ARM RISC processor at Acorn in the 1980s and now the ICL professor of engineering at the University of Manchester, is asking a different question, and that is …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Interesting Times

[broadcast Eclear, sent 1310073565.0]

xGSV Slightly Perturbed

oBOFH Reg Readers

So if you manage to simulate a human-level consciousness, would you consider that it stops being a simulation? Does the Human Rights Act not apply if it's not human?

Inquiring, and indeed Enquiring Minds, wish to know.

oo

9
0

Ethics

XGCU Grey Area (apt, no?)

I once had a great chat with an AI -focussed prof about the ethics of creating a parallel human mind incapable of forgetting mistakes, of unlearning the pain sensation and merely storing it as "bad". Good brainfood times.

whilst you can probably simulate 1 billion spiking neurons with this array, whats the time-frame? I can simulate a protein folding on my graphics card, but a couple of nanoseconds of modelling takes a few hours of compute time : are we simulating 1% of a human brain at 1% of the speed, or are we simulating 1% at 1:1 speed ratios, or are we doing 1% at faster-than-human levels?

The point : a million monkeys can write shakespeare idea : what if you had a monkey (this 1% brain model) and just ran it a million times faster than a monkey?

TL:DR : if its quick, does it have to be vast?

1
0
Coat

If you've ever seen a monkey on amphetamines

You'll realise that just making them go faster doesn't really help very much.

7
0

Sounds like it's real time

"What it does mean is that the simulated neurons can fire off a pulse to any other simulated neuron in the million-core system in about 1 millisecond, which just so happens to be about as fast as your neurons do it."

It seems to be "real time". Sadly the architecture doesn't sound like they can do 100% of a human brain at 1% speed, which would surely be interesting. The analysis of the system behaviour won't be done real time anyway, just on logs so it doesn't really matter if it goes really slowly.

1
0
Coffee/keyboard

Aagghh!

I can't get the image of a monkey on amphetamines out of my head!!

1
0
Silver badge
Boffin

@GSV Slightly Perturbed

"So if you manage to simulate a human-level consciousness, would you consider that it stops being a simulation? Does the Human Rights Act not apply if it's not human?"

Only if it could show that it had more intelligence than the average commentard. :-)

Seriously?

Its only a simulation until you can show that it can pass a Turing test. Even then, if you cut power, does that mean death, or just sleep if you can persist the last known state?

If you can persist the last known state, then when you restore power and restart the simulation, you just continue where you have left off. So no need to question about Human Rights Act.

1
0
Windows

Well

...they can type faster.

1
0
Silver badge
Alien

Brown acid?

Woodstock survivor Tim?

I'll stick to 'shrooms I've picked myself thanks!

Have you seen the state of this guy's eyes?

2
0
Silver badge
Angel

Fascinating

Does anyone know at what level it might become self aware, how to tell if it has, and what the ethical implications would be?

1
0
Gold badge
Joke

Perhaps...

"...might become self aware, how to tell if it has"

Because it hacks into the robotic car plants and reprograms them to build flying, killing machines (or just hacks into the preditor network)

"...and what the ethical implications would be?"

It names itself "SKYNET" because it has developed a sense of humor and kills everyone that it can.

3
0
Silver badge
Terminator

Of course not

I anyone knew that, that would mean it had already been done.

This is also just a coarse-grained simulation . Getting structure and interesting behaviour into this is another problem.

And in the end, I bet a smart machine won't be a large neuron simulator at all. Planes are not hundreds of flapping wings either. Some cross between Watson and Cog I reckon.

2
0
Gold badge
Happy

@Destroy All Monsters

"And in the end, I bet a smart machine won't be a large neuron simulator at all."

Well you're a large collection of neurons and you seem to simulate intelligence quite well.

So the question is are you a smart machine?

0
0

1

> Well you're a large collection of neurons and you seem to simulate intelligence quite well.

It's all that's is needed....

> So the question is are you a smart machine?

We are all complex machines - but not very smart.

The only proper ending for the Terminator series of films is the future AIs make one that's much smarter than humans instead of just as smart but faster. It would end the war rapidly and the remaining humans would be contented pets.

0
0
Joke

That guy's picture looks like...

...the father on Third Rock from the Sun.

Coincidence?

I think not!

3
0
Silver badge
Go

I thought he looked like

the nuclear researcher / mum's potential love interest from 'The Manhattan Project'.

0
0
Joke

John Lithgow

"Laugh while you can, monkey boy!"

4
0

sigh

Again with the performance comparisons of real neural networks versus simulated neural networks? The human brain isn't more powerful than a supercomputer. It's an apples to oranges comparison. They are two drastically different devices that perform drastically different tasks. Yeah, it takes an unfeasibly powerful computer to simulate a human brain in real time. But, guess what, it would take an unfeasibly large number of human brains (if they could be coordinated) to simulate a meager cellphone in real time. It's pretty stupid to compare the performance of a real system to that of a software-simulated one.

Call me when someone finally makes a neural network in hardware, then we can talk about comparisons.

4
5
Thumb Up

And while you're busy sulking, moaning, and being pedantic

He is busy pushing forward the frontier, and moving closer to that goal.

I think this is to be applauded, and is an excellent allocation of resources that I am happy to contribute tax money to.

4
1
Stop

I know, right?

They didn't make a complete neural network from scratch, they just built a system to simulate a small part of one, so this effort is obviously a complete failure. After all, if you can't succeed completely in a gargantuan task in one go, you might as well not even start it.

</sarcasm> for the <sarcasm>-impaired.

7
1
Terminator

And in circa 2048

when Filippo trundles up in his electric wheelchair to have his brain uploaded so he can outlast his physical body, they will cite the above post before sending him off to the Soylent Green plant.

They can't allocate 25kW of ongoing power to EVERYONE you know!

0
0
Gold badge

@Filippo

I'm sorry; where did you see a comparison of supercomputers to human brains?

I just read an article about simulating a section of brain using a computer. Similar simulations are done on computers such as weather and protein folding, so is that comparing rain with supercomputers?

What they are doing here is building a simulator that simulates a bigger section of brain for less money. The idea is to understand how the brain works on a macro rather than micro scale. Hopefully this may then lead into better medicine and healthcare.

1
0
Linux

Joe Lunchbucket and his brain

Isn't this about as much of our own brains that we actually use?? Of course, I use far more of my own, but from what I've observed on the news, regarding politicians, district attorneys, chairman of the IMF, news pundits and all of the "silly people" we see in adverts, films and music videos, a couple of old radio tubes and a 9 volt battery ought to do the job quite nicely. Oh yes, add some pulleys too, on the off chance that actual work could be performed.

3
0

@how much brain use

"Isn't this about as much of our own brains that we actually use??"

Only if you've been struck in the head too many times; the "you only use 10% of your brain" line is a myth founded on a misunderstanding of how the brain works. Not only do you use all your neurons but there's also this whole chemical "volume transfer" of information and hormones and mroe.

2
0

We've cracked it boys!

We've figured out something we're calling the 'D-type flip flop'. We think it's how computers are able to remember stuff. We'll be able to replicate Doom 2 in a matter of months.

Or,

So, you're the first simulated human brain. Can I ask you a few questions?

- No. Go screw yourself.

4
0
Terminator

i for one...

...welcome our new ARM powered, neural networked overlords.

2
2
Trollface

Will...

...it run RISC OS?

2
0
Bronze badge
Devil

Will it run RISC OS?

And which version? Castle's 5, ROL's 4 or ROOL 6? Or will we get another variation?

0
0
Silver badge

Wonderful!

"the human brain has somewhere on the order of 80 to 90 billion neurons"

Obviously you're discounting politicians. Given the scale of the project is "1 million processors to simulate the activities of around 1 billion neurons" they clearly have double the equivalent of the US Congress and all the lobbyists in DC. Perhaps they could run a quick sim to explain that clusterfuck.

1
0
Pint

The Brain Handles Information...

...in the form of a hologram, the phase modulation being the arrival times of neural pulses.

The n-gram of memory modifies the firing time of a given neuron.

Many drugs also modify firing timing.

0
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: The Brain Handles Information

You may be right, in which case this simulation will discover absolutely nothing. Or it may be some *other* feature of a neuron's behaviour that we don't yet realise is significant, in which case (again) this simulation will discover absolutely nothing.

And when it doesn't work, we won't have a clue why not.

I'm all for blue-sky research, but this does seem to be a /complete/ shot in the dark. Would it not be smarter for these guys to take some lesser organism (like an insect), faithfully model everything that they believe is important, and then see if the simulation actually reproduces the observed behaviour? That experiment is doable and guaranteed to teach us something.

1
1
FAIL

Would it not be smarter...

No, it wouldn't, because who gives a fuck what insects think? Hence, no funding.

0
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

But...

I'm much more interested in the possibility of simulated thoughts of an insect than in the real thoughts of you.

1
0
Boffin

Nature will still be winning

But when the day comes that artificial brains can be grown (and I'm sure that day will come) - and we then mass produce brains many times the size of our own to use as computers?

That is one age I would love to be able to live to see - the possibilities are endless.

0
0
Facepalm

the day comes that artificial brains can be grown (and I'm sure that day will come)

Why on earth do you imagine that artificial brains might replace computers? Might they also replace hammers, screwdrivers, garden gates, kitchen sinks, guns, anti-personnel mines, nuclear power stations, garden shears, or chain-saws?

A computer is a machine that is capable of reading a list of instructions and executing them. It has no more intelligence than a screwdriver, never has done, and never will have.

As I've said before, this entire confusion is caused by the ambiguity of the word "intelligent" and its careless use by IT folks.

1
1
Facepalm

Intelligence

I didn't say anything about intelligence buddy. But show me a computer with a similar processing power, size, power usage and self repairing ability of a brain.

A lot of money is being spent on organic computer research, and with good reason. If you cant see the potential of it, then fair enough.

0
0
Alert

I for one.....

..... am not sure about creating our new skynet overlord........

1
1
Terminator

And with other scientists working on time machines.....

Behold the birth of Skynet.

The only question is: have the TOKs he sent back to prepare stayed loyal or have they started to like humans?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Good morning Dave

ttfn

0
0

You can't randomly generate the works of shakespear.

The end result is a huge pile or random junk data. To pick the correct string of characters out of that junk you have a couple options.

A) You compare it to an existing document. In this case you are not creating anything, you are simply copying the original in a very round about way.

B) you have a intelligent observer read the junk and pick out meaningful content. In this case the intelligent observer is actually creating the meaning through the process of selection.

5
1

bollocks

if I hide a bar of gold in a rubbish tip does that bar of gold cease to exist until is found?

0
2
Anonymous Coward

@MrChriz

If you post spurious irrelevant gibberish on a forum, does it become intelligent?

No it doesn't. The OP is correct about randomly generated content - it is just the symbols without the meaning.

1
0
Silver badge
Boffin

It might do

It's possible (but thermodynamically improbable) that the gold might dissolve while you weren't looking, at a rate very many orders of magnitude greater than for any other chunk of gold ever observed.

If someone else dumps cyanide waste, or a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, on top of your gold, the likelyhood of its disappearance is considerably enhanced ;-)

In either case, it's an inanimate Schrodinger's cat until you observe it.

1
0
Gold badge
Coat

Re: It might do

"....it's an inanimate Schrodinger's cat....."

Is that inanimate as in dead or as in asleep?

0
0
Gold badge

Re: hiding a bar of gold

If you just *say* you've hidden a bar of gold in the rubbish tip, then perhaps it *doesn't* exist.

Similarly, I bet there really is tons of gold at the bottom of the Pacific but (as we were all told earlier this week) that doesn't help a bundle because it is mixed up in a whole load of rubbish.

0
0
Trollface

Asynchronous processes

They're building custom silicon. A company that was started to do asynchronous interconnects is doing the design work. They're based out of the Manchester CS department. I wonder why they chose ARMs over Amulet.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

to get

funding from ARM?

0
0
Gold badge
Thumb Up

AC@09:53

In fact Steve Furber *also* ran the Amulet project.

But you're right if you want to cut the power bill asynchronous is *the* way to go.

I suspect this might have something to do with being able to observe and log the state of all the processors at the *same* time so you can establish what they are doing.

A question that gets *very* tricky when things aren't tied to some kind of central clock.

0
0
Childcatcher

90bn neurons..

.. is that the whole brain or the bit which does the thinking. I seem to remember that 90% of the brain is occupied with bodily functions.

Human rights. Do you not think we might be moving to create a God?

0
1

10% is myth

Don't try to rationalize it or understand it; it's mentally void.

0
0

Done that already

We already created a God. Quite a few of them, actually.

This is a far more rational project!

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.