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For more than fifty years, computers have essentially been calculators with storage systems and programmable memory. Researchers at IBM are aiming to improve up that. They have been working on a cognitive computing project called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE). By reproducing the structure and architecture of the brain — the way various regions receive sensory input, connect to each other, and transmit motor output — the SyNAPSE project models computing systems that emulate the brain’s computing efficiency, size and power usage without being programmed.
The multi-year cognitive computing initiative to build cool, compact, cognitive computing chips that rival the functionality of the human brain while meeting extremely low power and space of the human brain combines principles from nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing.
The multi-dimensional research team consists of IBM researchers and collaborators from Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Now in phase 2, the project is being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The SyNAPSE project was developed out of the Almaden Institute, an annual invitation-only forum held at IBM Research – Almaden in San Jose, California. The Almaden Institute brings together prominent, innovative thinkers from academia, government, industry, research labs and the media. The event promotes an intellectually charged, stimulating and vigorous discussion that addresses fundamental challenges at the very edge of science and technology, such as privacy, the future of work, cognitive computing, complexity, and energy storage. Partnerships born out of the Almaden Institute range from university and national laboratory collaborations to connections among IBM research labs and with industry experts, all forming a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team that focuses on unique aspects of the project.