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IBM Announces Advances Toward a Computer that Works Like a Human Brain.

San Jose Mercury News (CA) (11/18/09) Bailey, Brandon

Researchers from IBM’s Almaden Research Center and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have performed a computer simulation that matches the scale and complexity of a cat’s brain, while researchers from IBM and Stanford University say they have developed an algorithm for mapping the human brain in unprecedented detail. The researchers say these efforts could help build a computer that replicates the complexity of the human brain. In the first project, an IBM supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore Lab was used to model the movement of data through a structure with 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses, enabling researchers to observe how information “percolates” through a system similar to a feline cerebral cortex. The research is part of IBM project manager Dharmendra Modha’s efforts to design a new computer by first better understanding how the brain works. “The brain has awe-inspiring capabilities,” Modha says. “It can react or interact with complex, real-world environments, in a context-dependent way. And yet it consumes less power than a light bulb and it occupies less space than a two-liter bottle of soda.” Modha says a major difference between the brain and traditional computers is that current computer are designed on a model that differentiates between processing and storing data, which can lead to a lag in updating information. However, the brain can integrate and react to a constant stream of sights, sounds, and sensory information. Modha imagines a cognitive computer capable of analyzing a constant stream of information from global trading floors, banking institutions, and real estate markets to identify key trends and their consequences; or a computer capable of evaluating pollution using real-time sensors from around the world.

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There’s No Business Like Grid Business.

ICT Results (11/16/09)

The European Union-funded GRid enabled access to rich mEDIA (GREDIA) content project has developed a platform that makes the grid’s resources available to business users. “Many business applications need to work fast and need to work with huge amounts of data,” says GREDIA coordinator Nikos Sarris. “The grid is ideal for that, but software developers don’t use it because they don’t know how.” Sarris says the GREDIA platform will help business application developers exploit the grid without requiring them to become grid technology experts. He says the system is reliable because it is distributed across numerous machines, and it optimizes business transactions using algorithms that make the most of the grid’s distributed resources. The project developed and demonstrated two business services: one allows any number of sources using almost any kind of device to be used as a news-gathering team; a second is designed for the banking industry. The banking applications enable lenders to use their home computers or handheld devices to securely provide information. The program authenticates information, combines it into a profile, and calculates credit rankings using a protocol specified by the lender.

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