SyNAPSE: IBM Cognitive Computing Project

Yesterday IBM announced their project of building cognitive computing chips. The details are scarce and are mostly PR (as the video above), which is sufficient to attract attention. According to the official press release and post on IBM research blog, IBM is developing chips that implement neurons in hardware. While software simulation of neurons have been done for decades, developing a highly effective hardware for this purpose can be regarded as an innovative step. Naturally, the focus of the project is on performance and power consumption. Although these aspects of the technology are of great importance, they do not make it more intelligent per se. Individual neurons and a network they form in a brain are very sophisticated structures exhibiting complex dynamic behavior. It is not feasible to simulate these structures on low levels of abstraction such as molecular level. In practice, much simpler models that ignore many of the biological details are used. Currently, it is not known what models are utilized in SyNAPSE project so it is hard to say anything specific about the capabilities of systems based on the cognitive chips.

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