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back to article New human-brain chip can be adjusted for cannabis effect

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a better way to simulate the processing that goes on in the human brain, and you hardware enthusiasts out there will appreciate this one. Rather than simulate the firing and spiking of a bunch of neurons in software on massive clusters of computer chips …

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Terminator

Tracking with closeups

SHALMANESER That real cool piece of hardware up at the GT tower. They say he's apt to evolve to true consciousness one day. Also they say he's as intelligent as a thousand of us put together, which isn't really saying much, because when you put a thousand of us together look how stupidly we behave.

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Silver badge

As Terry Pratchett put it:

"The IQ of a mob is equal to the IQ of the dimmest member divided by the number of mobsters"

See, simple math explains it.

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Human Brain

"You brain does it in 20 watts, but it will think many orders of magnitude slower"

Differents parts of the brain works at different clocks speeds. In fact the brain is like a multi core CPU, each core being specialized and working at a speed adequate to its task.

For example the first time you type on a keyboard, you do it with your "intellectual core", thinking about your moves and searching for the letters, slowly typing. Later, your "physical movement core" knows how to type, and you no longer bother on how to do it. You do it faster, and your "intellectual core' is free for formulating the phases that you type on the keyboard magnitudes faster.

It would be fascinating to benchmark the diffrent areas of this incredibly powerful computer, the human brain.

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errrrrrrr........... giggle.....errr....

nah its gone

giggle

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Anonymous Coward

power

so in silicon you get GHz speeds at a power of MW, in wetware you get 10Hz at Watt powers. Methinks the silicon wins on those benchmarks, being maybe a factor of 100 ahead.

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Boffin

It doesn't

You assume the brain process information in a linear manner like a CPU. It is not the case, within its 10Hz the brain process an ammount of information in real time unreacheable by any computer today.

On the other hand, for linear processing, the brain does not "compute" as fast as a CPU. It simply doesn't have to anyway.

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Biology FTW!

Is it just me or does the fact your brain output 20W make for a really cool stat? And the fact the body can maintain a constant environment and power supply to that 20W-sucking organ - even under load (sprinting/climbing/swimming etc) - also really cool?

Besides, isn't the human brain super-massively parrallel, thus making direct CPU comparisons irrelevant? We can do mult-face recognition, even in poor and/or dynamic conditions, with 'low-res' cameras in a split second, even with a significant background load (including imagine enhancement/pattern recognition to allow for the poor optics). Like to see your CPU manage that.

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Anonymous Coward

parallel?

I think maybe 133million multi-synaptic chips might make a fair stab at parallel computation as well.

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Happy

Just very simple act of processing your vision is in orders of magnitude more information than any system available at the moment could handle in the same amount of time.

Just look around you right now and without even trying your brain can probably name every single object, colour and shape, then astound you by giving another variation of the object in question and even dozen other names of the object, all in a split second.

All that processed in 10Hz, 20W and the size of small melon AND multi-task by still keeping you moving and breathing!

Nothing even comes close to that squishy pink thing sitting behind your eyes, look after it!

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Go

mmmm endocannabinoids

Another good source of endocannabinoids is breast milk. Seeing as we have receptors in our brains specifically for these endocannabinoids it seems strange that the government is so hell bent on denying us what could potentially one of the most symbiotic plants for us to use.

Remember kids vape that weed, there's no need to smoke it,cause frankly that's not very good for you.

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Trollface

brains...

So will we now get cyborg zombies looking for synaptic brain chips to eat?

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Sir

So, how long before the computers need analysts?

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Pint

Finally!!

A chip that can get completely spaced out!

I'll drink to that.

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Boffin

Another step forward

And going straight for positronic brains, apparently.

Long Live Asimov !

Boffin icon for obvious reasons.

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Alien

I find it an odd coincidence

that there are roughly the same amount of galaxies in the universe as there are neurons in our brains (well, some of our brains).

<Theory> Some reckon there could be double that number (galaxies). </Theory>

A bit like the Sun happening to be 400 times the Moon's diameter but 400 times further away.

Thus causing both to appear the same size from Earth. And giving us that wonderful phenomenon of the corona at a total solar eclipse.

Science may indeed be pointing us in the right direction. If only we have ears to listen and eyes to see.

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Pint

"Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys." - Emma Bull

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Anonymous Coward

some confusion

seems to be evident within the article in the way that impulses are transmitted through synapses. Ions are used within the individual nerve cell membranes but the transmission *across* the synapse (the gap between neurons) is mediated by neurotransmitters (ie adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, etc)

i would hope that a team looking to simulate neurophysiology would contain a neurophysiologist.

with regards to the computational power of grey matter vs current computers then there are probably going to be much greater similarities between quantum computers and the brain rather than classical computers.

As an example (one of frighteningly large number), the processes taking place to initiate the action of jumping onto a moving platform that you have just seen whilst running are truly astounding acts of computation.

Most systems in the brain are defaulted to working at 100% and are then inhibited downstream to the required level of action as it is quicker to remove a choke than to ramp up the primary system in the first place.

Wonderful piece of kit.

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Sir

What kind of computational power does it require to throw a 9 dart finish?

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Terminator

"... you would need around 133 million ... chips ... and it would burn about 15.3 megawatts ..."

The important thing to take from this statement is that it ** can ** -- from an engineering and architectural standpoint -- be done.

We already have supercomputers on this planet, like the Fujitsu K:

-- -- Wikipedia: K computer

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K_computer

that consume electricity at similar scales (9.8 Mw for the Fujitsu K, 15.3 Mw for a full-blown human brain emulator using these synapse chips), and interconnecting 133 million components, while admittedly a very daunting engineering challenge, is not impossible.

The key factors against building a device like this are cost and time. Current geopolitical sentiment is leaning away from "big science" endeavours, especially those that appear to be wholly theoretical, and thus be of little immediate commercial, military, or consumer benefit.

Which means we're still probably at least a few decades away from building -- and then having to live with -- a Forbin-esque computer.

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Holmes

Dude, sweet...

Now all they've got to do is stop it ordering Dominos and buying Mars Bars at the late night garage.

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IT Angle

"... and buying Mars Bars at the late night garage."

Do they even still sell those? I haven't seen on of those West of the Big Pond in a long time...

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dohhh .. i forgot what i was going to say ..

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Linux

Simultaneity

"When this happens, your brain remembers to do things, like duck a punch or keep your heart beating. (Often at the same time.)"

Initially read that as "punch a duck" and was forced to wonder what kind of activities Reg hacks get up to in their off-hours.

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Terminator

Someone had to state this....

Destroy this chip now. Skynet mustn't happen!

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Facepalm

"New human-brain chip can be adjusted for cannabis effect"

And I thought that this would be about Wireheading from Larry Niven's Known Space books...!

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Anonymous Coward

But...

does it use memristors?

Also, it occurs to me that one possible hack would be to integrate superconducting wires, optical fibres with blue laser light (to make the superconductors work) and photoelectric switches based on MEMS into the system.

Plus the "positronic brain" would glow like the ones on "I Robot"

AC/DC 6EQUJ5

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Paris Hilton

Getting your pets stoned.

Wow, digital cannabis?

Can we apply this research to the Cat-Brain chip developed by IBM for DARPA?

Any brain simulation that is stoned is likely to be a much more friendly Skynet ;-)

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Terminator

Robots not flaky enough.

The rise of stoner robots...pass the cheese bolts and pepsi oil, this will be a fun one.

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