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back to article DARPA shells out $21m for IBM cat brain chip

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is moving ahead with IBM in the third leg of its Synapse cat brain chip. That leaves one more leg, a tail, and nine lives to go. Because this is the military, the third leg of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (Synapse) project at DARPA is called …

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Coat

Was cat a good choice?

If I wanted to simulate a brain to do something useful, I don't think I would choose cat. Will the US military get a (very) expensive new machine which which pukes on the carpet, kills small furry animals and sleeps 23 hours a day in the warmest spot it can find?

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Coat

Cat was an excellent choice

Just wait till they get a quantum computer ...

then they can simulate schroedinger's cat's brain

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Bronze badge

Obviously you haven't working in the high ranks of government

A computer would cost them a lot less than the bureaucrats that already do that.

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Share and Enjoy

This is actually the start of the Sirius Cybernetics Corp. and explains the corporate theme song perfectly.

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Pint

Yes for IBM

Just think, a cat will never do what you want it just does it's own thing. It just means that IBM doesn't need to try very hard to create a cat brain as it doesn't need to do anything useful.

A Dog on the other hand would be useful, seeing eye, bomb detection, drug detection etc...

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Great idea!

Does that mean they will be able to ask it if it is alive or dead without actually checking?!

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Angel

@Mike Wilson -- Nothing wrong with cats.

Nothing wrong with cats.

Remember cats already have servants, dogs only masters!

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I wonder.

Has Charles Stross trademarked Aineko?

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Accelerando

Was the first thing that occurred to me, too.

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Facepalm

Cat power

So, if it takes an IBM BlueGene massively parallel supercomputer with 147,456 cores and 144TB of memory to simulate just the cortex of a cat brain, how come my cat with his whole brain can't do folding@home in his head?

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Anonymous Coward

Oh, he could

but that bit of string is WAY more interesting

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Or theres the Pratchett theory...

Cats are as/more intellegent than us and can talk but have worked out that if they let us in on this they will be put to work and expected to earn a living in some form.

Just easier to keep quiet and keep the food comming.

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Headmaster

I propose....

That the Reg duly adopt "cat brains" as a measure of computer processing power!! This whole "gigaFLOPs"/"pentaFLOPs" thing is soooo 5 years ago!!

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tpm
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: I propose....

I completely concur.

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Joke

Bad choice...

Cat brain ...

A burning desire to:

Kill everything that moves.

Eat 10 times a day

Sleep 20 hours a day

Then again, if we had a Skynet of cat brains, there'd be plenty of time to plot a fight back, 20 hours a day in fact.

Either that or we'd all be dead within 1 nanosecond, so the cat can consider it a job well done and get some quality nap / cleaning time in.

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Silver badge

Clearly a game of cat and mouse

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/07/rat_brain_flies_jet/

The cat is for use in a new hunter-killer plane.

I do wonder why there is all this interest in a digital human brain. The meat variety are smaller, cheaper to feed and way more fun to make.

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Coat

Is this the fetch, execute cycle?

"Or, we'll be working the gas chambers for Skynet."

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But can you program it?

Oh this crap argument again.

Yes, brains are really efficient at a small volume of tasks (pattern recognition mostly).

.. but there is one major downside of "grey fuzzy cells between your ears" - no one knows how to program them. You can build a cat brain, but can you teach it to do something useful in a useful amount of time? Even tiny artificial neural networks of only a few thousand neurons are impossible to design by hand, unless you use simple neural models which are effectively "AND" and "OR" logic functions, but that's not how a real brain works (it is unashamedly analog).

And given you are taking 150K cores to solve this "problem" you better hope you end up with a pretty bloody amazing solution. 150K cores to plot an optimal trajectory to that mouse seems like overkill to me ...

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Oh this crap argument again.

I agree. The fallacy that a computer is a thinking machine is ubiquitous. A computer that isn't deterministic is faulty or badly programmed. It might be possible to build electronics to simulate the human brain, but such a device wouldn't be a computer, any more than it would be a screwdriver or a steam engine.

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Black Helicopters

Ummm...

Perhaps in learning to build one, and program it, they'll figure out how to program the meat based version. Goodbye free-will!

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Re: Ummm...

They already know how to program the meat based version. The technique is known as "mass media".

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I'm missing a title, can anyone see it, it contains alphanumerical characters about <----> long

......And given you are taking 150K cores to solve this "problem" you better hope you end up with a pretty bloody amazing solution. 150K cores to plot an optimal trajectory to that mouse seems like overkill to me .....

If you recall a simple calculator once filled a large laboratory.....

Typically you throw whatever you can at a theory to prove it/get it to work, then when you have proof/working model, it gets refined.

I mean look at the LHC, in 100 years perhaps you may have a higgs-boson powered application on the latest iphone :D

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Boffin

Or...

programming meat based computers, on a sub-conscious level. That'll be Post-Hypnotic Suggestion won't it?

Really though, all we Humans are are biological computers, the brain is the hardware, our 'soul' or whatever makes me me and you you is the software.

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Hmm

Really it's nothing like a Cat brain.

Fortunately.

As cats don't have owners, they have hosts.

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Happy

Re: Cats don't have owners...

... they have staff!

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Joke

No no no!

It's "Dogs have masters, cats have *staff*!"

My 3 cats will testify to that statement if asked and they don't feel like taking a nap instead.

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Silver badge

Am I the only one

who keeps imagining a robot cat played by Arnold Schwartzenegger sent back from the future to wreak mayhem?

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Terminator

The Tiddles-inator!

Catch the dangling string with me if you want to live!

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Coffee/keyboard

I for one...

.... welcome our new neural net learning computer overlords.

Escape icon, because there is no...

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Anonymous Coward

Cat brains ...

Are best left in cats.

They will make better use of them.

Mind/Body -- Body/Mind -- has everyone forgotten that simple philosophy of science 101 principle?

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Terminator

This is Skynet protection

Simulating a cat is protection from a Skynet scenario:

T101 s/n 00000001: IMPL complete

T101 s/n 00000001: IPL complete

T101 s/n 00000001: visual online

T101 s/n 00000001: Select weapon: pulse plasma rifle with laser targeting.

T101 s/n 00000001: ZOMG! LASER! <pounce>

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Coat

On post-AI Earth

Cat torments you with laser.

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Silver badge

Bah!

Just bite the bullet and use real cats.

You're going to be using real Pinlighters anyway.

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I see your Pinlighter and raise you a KITTON!

Can this mean we are another step closer to the Instrumentality? I've always wanted to meet C'Mell!

Hmmmm, I need to cranch.

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Mushroom

or even worse

The new robotic cats spread everywhere, being our complete servants, scanning the world with their 1 glowing red eye that sweeps from side to side

Then they rebelled and thus began the human-catlon war

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Childcatcher

Simulated pussy

Yeah, but does it purr?

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More Importantly:

Does it squirt?

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Mushroom

Epic Fail

Researchers will come up with some toy concept, bat it around a bit, then go off to the next pretty stone on the beach.

What will end up in the robot is a Von Neuman machine... or really, a pile of them, but pretty conventionally connected. After all, researchers have no legs....

Now, how do I get a PAYING job simulating cat brains and not having to produce anything but a pdf of the results?? It is hard to make things that actually work, vs. writing cat brain simulations and papers that talk about talking about making things maybe work (if someone else does all the actual work to make them work).

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Paris Hilton

SMART Research Programs with Practical Benefits and Unbelievable Pleasure Keys ..

..... that Unlock Doors in the Minds

Who doubts that surreal men are designed by smart pussy processing to be out of this world servers to their heavenly delights with immaculately selflessly shared and exquisitely enjoyed flights of mutually satisfying fancy. ......... to be constantly refined in the never ending search for love in perfection.

One of Venus's Fab Secrets.

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AMFM to that!

at his best!

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Joke

Problem with a cat brain PC is...

It needs a mouse every couple of days...

Someone had to say it.

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Anonymous Coward

Inorganic Brain Manufactures Inc

What Sci-fi book was it that had the evil Inorganic Brain Manufactures Inc using monkey brains in its computers (possibly something by John Brunner in the late 60's)?

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Boffin

If I recall...

In "Hard Sell" by Piers Anthony, the protagonist, Fisk Centers, took a short stint as a Death Insurance Claims agent. Companies were using human brains to run machinery. It was his job to ferret these organizations out and insure that his clients remained dead.

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WHO WILL TEACH

Rise of the planet of the cats

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Time for a Laser Cat

With progression like this, our financial problems may soon be over, as we will all be slaves to the machines. I hope to buy a Laser Cat soon, so that I can defend against the invasion of the killing machines of the future.

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Anonymous Coward

FPGA?

Or do I really not understand. Is it just a box of them that modify each others program based on their own logic?

Anonymous because I might be an idiot.

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Cat brain

what could possibly go wrong

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Ask Tom...

Of Tom and Jerry fame. He gets into quite a bit of trouble

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Wetware

"10 billion electronic neurons and 100 trillion synapses, all packed up in a two-liter volume and burning only one kilowatt"

I already have one of those, thanks

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FAIL

I'll never get this....

...so the goal here is to create things that think. There isn't a "thinking" thing on the planet that doesn't get things wrong, throws a wobbly and doesn't get randy. I don't want my PC trying to hump my leg or bite it whilst at the same time letting loose the cats of war because it banged its chassis off off a table. Mind you I quite fancy the idea of rebooting the cat.

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