FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

IBM's Blue Gene to Simulate a Mammal Brain

IBM is teaming up with Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) to simulate the workings of a mammal brain on IBM's Blue Gene, currently the world's most powerful supercomputer. The machine being used has a peak speed of 22.8 teraflops (trillion calculations per second); the fastest Blue Gene version runs at nearly 137 teraflops.

Under the "Blue Brain" project, every function of the brain will be modeled, down to the molecular level. The project will focus on the neo-cortex, the portion of the brain that governs higher levels of reasoning.

Blue Brain, which will take from two to three years to complete, promises multiple benefits. Aside from testing the limits of Blue Gene, it will hopefully increase understanding of how the mammal brain works, provide insights into artificial intelligence, and reduce the need for live animals in neuro-research.

The researchers had better watch their backs, though. The Japanese government plans to develop a supercomputer that they claim will be 73 times more powerful than Blue Gene by 2011, and that will supposedly be able to calculate at 10 petaflops (quadrillion calculations per second) -- believed by some to be the minimum computing speed of the human brain.
Source: Taipei Times (The Guardian), KurzweilAI.net