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In IBM simulates 530 billon neurons, 100 trillion synapses on supercomputer, Kurzweil AI reports that scientists announced the achievement of a milestone in the simulation of the human brain at a conference called SuperComputing 2012, last week:

Announced in 2008, DARPA’s SyNAPSE program calls for developing electronic neuromorphic (brain-simulation) machine technology that scales to biological levels, using a cognitive computing architecture with 1010 neurons (10 billion) and 1014 synapses (100 trillion, based on estimates of the number of synapses in the human brain) to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological levels.”

IBM says it has now accomplished this milestone with its new “TrueNorth” system running on the world’s second-fastest operating supercomputer, the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LBNL) Blue Gene/Q Sequoia, using 96 racks (1,572,864 processor cores, 1.5 PB memory, 98,304 MPI processes, and 6,291,456 threads).

IBM and LBNL achieved an unprecedented scale of 2.084 billion neurosynaptic cores* containing 53×1010  (530 billion) neurons and 1.37×1014 (100 trillion) synapses running only 1542 times slower than real time.

The scientists didn't say what their simulated brain was thinking about, but the picture above shows a map of the synaptic connections between simulated neurons in different regions of the simulated brain.


But, notice that even with the second fastest supercomputer in the world, the scientists were only able to simulate a sub-region of the human brain operating "only" 1542 times more slowly than your brain is operating at now as you read this, or when you are eating Hostess Twinkies while watching TV!  This should make all couch potatoes feel superior.

Humans Rule! Still for a while longer, at least. But, that's the same thing the dinosaurs purportedly thought 260 million years ago.

End-of-post: Photos, video, and abstract footnotes below squiggle.  

Here the authors exploring a group simulation of the human brain which my understanding is still legal in California.


And, Here is the Abstract from their Supercomputing 2012:

Inspired by the function, power, and volume of the organic brain, we are developing TrueNorth, a novel modular, non-von Neumann, ultra-low power, compact architecture. TrueNorth consists of a scalable network of neurosynaptic cores, with each core containing neurons, dendrites, synapses, and axons. To set sail for TrueNorth, we have developed Compass, a multithreaded, massively parallel functional simulator and a parallel compiler that maps a network of long-distance pathways in the Macaque monkey brain to TrueNorth. We demonstrate near-perfect weak scaling on a 16 rack IBM Blue Gene/Q (262144 CPUs, 256 TB memory), achieving an unprecedented scale of 256 million neurosynaptic cores containing 65 billion neurons and 16 trillion synapses running only 388× slower than real-time with an average spiking rate of 8.1 Hz. By using emerging PGAS communication primitives, we also demonstrate 2× better real-time performance over MPI primitives on a 4 rack Blue Gene/P (16384 CPUs, 16 TB memory).


And, here, is a painfully slow interview of Dr. Modha explaining their research.

6:47 PM PT: Hey, please check out my other posts of the last 24 hours:

Sun erupts in double prominence and coronal mass ejection away from earth (no cause for alarm)

World bank warns climate change will hit poorest regions hardest

People in creative professions have higher incidence of mental illness in family lines

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lets start with something easy (9+ / 0-)

    How about showing the brain of a subject with a hammer dropped on their foot.  Understanding pain in the brain might open a lot of new therapies.

    •  I volunteer you! nt (9+ / 0-)

      "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

      by Bob Love on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:05:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, we don't have to drop a hammer on someone's (9+ / 0-)

      foot to get them to experience pain.  Here's an article from a few days ago showing that the brian can react to thinking about a math problem experiencing the same kind of pain.

      Proof math can be a real pain

      Report shows similarities between brain's response to math anxiety and physical pain
      Dawn Turner Trice

      A report that suggests that when a person is anxious about math, his or her brain responds in the same way it would if the person was experiencing pain. (Gregor Schuster, Photographer's Choice)
      Sian Beilock is the author of "Choke: What the Secrets Of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To."

      She recently co-authored a report that suggests that when a person is anxious about math, his or her brain responds in the same way it would if the person was experiencing pain.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:10:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Functional MRI studies have changed our understand (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, Pluto, IreGyre

        On fundamental levels.  Now we're modeling the brain in ways unthought of even 10 years ago.  Now, I'm looking for a practical payoff for me, in learning to understand pain response functionality.

      •  I thought my school records were confidential ; ) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

        by Farkletoo on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:44:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Didn't they tell you all your school records were (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Farkletoo, walkshills, Brian B

          part of your "permanent record" that would follow you for life?

          One of the most terrifying moments of my life was when the Principal came into our first grade class and explained in dramatic language that now that we were in first grade, unlike kindergarten all of our infractions would got into the permanent record which could prevent us from going to college or getting good jobs.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:54:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Similarities. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There's a big difference between two experiences being the same and having similar regions of the brain light up for two experiences.  There's an awful lot of brain studies around that just show some patterns that don't necessarily mean anything worthwhile.

        I saw a talk where someone criticized these kind of news stories as basically sounding like something insightful when it's really not.  That's exactly what the math/pain story seems like to me.

    •  cold is registered as pain in the brain (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis, IreGyre

      that might be more humane than hammer dropping :-) I think somewhere in Germany last century someone somewhere did ice cold water experiments... then after a while the  US airforce and  US army repeated and extended those experiments  - - to help them understand how long a pilot could survive 'the cold'  in various airplane dysfunction scenarios;

      The world is a college of corporations, the world is a business Mr. Beale - Network ~ Montana initiative 166: corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings; in MT money is not speech; it's property.

      by anyname on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 07:55:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've participated in something like that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nearly 20 years ago i answered an ad for guinea pigs to take part in pain research. "Cool!" i thought. I had been delving into the the-then little known body piercing/modification thing and had … well, surprised myself in the pain tolerance department on a number of occasions, so this caught my fancy.

      In the interview i learned that researchers from two local universities were collaborating, the group from one being at the school of dentistry. ("ruh-roh!" thought i, gazing uneasily toward the door. "Is it safe?!" Yikes-o-rama.)

      But it wasn't anything so blood-curdling. What they did was have me sit in a chair (yes, a dentist's chair, so … a little nervous, but it was comfy) next to this contraption consisting of a water bath with a temperature control unit. They had a computer program dial up various temperatures more or less randomly. We'd wait until the water was at the correct temp and then i'd dip my (finger? hand? I can't remember) and leave it there for 60 seconds. Then i'd have to say, in a range from 0 to 100, how painful it was.

      This went on for a couple of hours, as it took some time for the temp to stabilise. Naturally, i started chatting with the grad student twisting the knobs. It turned out that his prof knew all about the piercing thing, the Oh-kee-Pah Sun Dance, and had even traveled to Thailand to see those crazy bastards walking around with bicycles hanging from their faces. By the end of it i could tell he was glad i hadn't opted for the stack of magazines they'd made available. I certainly was too.

      I found out later that the program would repeat some of the temperatures. What they were looking for were subjects who could subjectively toss out reasonably similar figures for a given temp. The complete, honest truth is that i was certain, even before learning this info, that my responses would be pathetically all over the place. Later, they told me that i was the best subject! w.t.f?

      Anyway, this was all preliminary. Some weeks later: showtime. I had a date with a PET scan. I showed up bright an early one day, had my head molded for the brace, had a pee, and then climbed onto the thing. Next to it was the water basin contraption. Over the next couple of hours we ran through the same routine, only my brain was being scanned each time.

      I remember one very funny thing early on. I think we hadn't actually begun yet, although my head was already clamped down. The guy who was to be the afternoon guinea pig had been paid to show up at the same time as me, in case i was a no-show because PET time is precious. (I remember feeling a bit chuffed that he was getting $x more than me for agreeing to sit around a few extra hours.) But the researchers made the mistake of allowing him to come into the room while i was being prepped. Perfectly sensible: They wanted him to see what he'd be doing later on.

      Except one of the things that would be happening is that an anesthetist would be digging around in his wrist trying to poke a catheter into his artery. I didn't see him leave the room (I was way too interested in the jabby stuff going on at the time) but one of the researchers came in a bit later -- i'm pretty sure after my head had been secured to the PET -- and said, "Do you have the list of names? X just walked out." I gather he thought the jabby stuff looked a bit gruesome. He should have asked me about it. The local i'd been given was A-1. Although admittedly i could still feel all sorts of (well, gruesome) poking around.

      Some  time after that came a visit to the MRI, so they could get a more refined sense of my personal brain structure. Out came the jewelry -- it's a freaking big magnet -- and on with my custom-molded helmet/clamp thing. And then they gave me a printout! W00t!

      Next time: The time i did vodka shots (beginning at 10am!) while hooked up to an EKG and playing (early 90s) video games. They held onto me until i'd sobered up (breathalyzer) and then i biked home in the afternoon, whereupon my lovely neighbour saw me coming and yelled down, "Hey, up for some screwdrivers?" Hair of the dog.

      (I am not, and have never been, one of those people with more stainless steel on their faces than face, btw.)

      All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

      by subtropolis on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 12:31:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which foot should I drop it on? (0+ / 0-)

      Your left or right?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 07:02:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's the scary thing about these (12+ / 0-)

    experiments. When a machine has 10^12 neurons and 10^14 interconnections, like a human brain, we really have no idea whether or not that machine would be capable of consciousness. Modern theories of consciousness often rest on the principle that consciousness is borne out of complexity - that the sum of many, many unconscious objects (neurons) can amount to something different than simply the sum of its parts. Put together enough transistors and at some point you are replicating the same conditions that produce self-awareness in animals.

    What will we do when a computer, on its own, says "hello" to us? What are the ethics that come into play? What is the morality of turning that computer off, for instance?

  •  I'm confused. Sounds like they can only replicate (5+ / 0-)

    the brain activity of a comatose possum, if that.

    Come on, kos, where's my fucking Singularity!

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:09:40 PM PST

  •  This is similar to Dr. Noonien Soong's first (5+ / 0-)

    attempt, B4.  Then came Lore and Data, and of course Data later designed Lal...

    "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

    by Pierro Sraffa on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:22:30 PM PST

  •  You are on a roll today! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  It reminds me of "The Adolescence of P1" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Words In Action

    A book I read almost 30 years ago.

    It was about a computer that gains consciousness.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:27:01 PM PST

  •  when will it start a war?...n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Words In Action, Tailfish

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 06:32:44 PM PST

  •  Group simulation? You can't see their hands. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Words In Action


  •  There's a group exploring singularity. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    According to them, there is an apex, a moment, when human equivalent standards in information processing equal or exceed the human brain; singularity. They call it benevolent superintelligence, an artificial intelligence machine/mind both kinder and smarter than humans. They've been at it for awhile, and estimate singularity should be technologically possible sometime between 2010 and 2030.

    •  is that Kurzweil & co? Because seriously...while (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis, willrob

      he was great when it came to keyboards and such--I think he's completely off the deep end :)

      •  me too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I try to keep up with that stuff but i've always come away with the impression that a lot of it is delusional. Mostly the "brain uploads" stuff, really. I do think the singularity notion has merit, although a lot of it also seems to be hand waving.

        All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

        by subtropolis on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 12:38:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Brain uploads? Sorry, I missed the crazy. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Hell, my brain maxes out just typing comments.
          Short version: singularity=mediocre science fiction with a side of technical jargon, or how speed reading led me astray.
          Like any other flim-flam, the singularity guys I mentioned apparently bury that wackiness deeper into their "sell."

  •  But why? (0+ / 0-)

    It all seems pretty pointless, when we don't know how neurons actually work, and ultimately how they modify their own behavior to learn.

    Further, there are basic aspects of the brain's "architecture" that we don't understand at all. We only just learned how brains organize their long connections during development within the last several months.

    We have very little idea how the various neurotransmitters potentiate groups of neurons in various areas of the brains.

    We really still have a very poor idea of how many neurons in total the brain has. 10^10 neurons? That's an old joke in neurology: Q. How many neurons does the human brain have? A. 10^10, of which 10^11 are purkinje cells in the cerebellum.

    [Note: 10^11 > 10^10. Purkinje cells are one of the several types of neuron. The cerebellum is a small part of the brain in the back largely responsible for physical coordination.]

  •  which way did it vote? (0+ / 0-)

    That interview is 1542 times more painfully slower than it needs to be.

    I kid! I very much appreciated it. Fascinating stuff.

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 11:33:46 PM PST

  •  Is this good news for John McCain? (0+ / 0-)

    Or Sarah Palin?

    Or Willard...

  •  This is cool. I think???? (0+ / 0-)

    Boy wait till the religious fanatics figure out what they are doing.  

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 01:29:24 AM PST

  •  "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do ..." n/t (0+ / 0-)

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 03:19:49 AM PST

  •  Funny, you would think that there would be a (0+ / 0-)

    few women computer scientists working on this experiment, but all I see is the typical "boys club" in a circle.


    Hope has a hole in it when Republicans come, bringing shackles and sorrow; branding their greed on the backs of the poor. - Wendy Connors

    by Wendys Wink on Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 04:18:32 AM PST

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