Artificial Cat Brain On Pentagon’s To Do List

The Pentagon’s crash program to create an artificial brain is just about up and running. And, if it all goes as planned, we could see an electronic chip that mimics the “function, size, and power consumption” of a cat’s cortex some time in the next decade. Darpa, the Defense Department’s way-out research arm, is in late-stage negotiations with Malibu’s HRL Laboratories to spearhead its Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (“SyNAPSE“) program. The goal: Build a chip with a “neuroscience-inspired architecture that can address a wide range of cognitive abilities — perception, planning, decision making, and motor control,” a company release notes.

The first nine-month phase of the program will focus on designing, fabricating, and characterizing synaptic and neural elements and combining them into a high-density, interconnecting microelectronic “fabric,” which will be incorporated into a more complex system-level fabric design…

In the following 15-month phase, HRL [a joint venture between Boeing and General Motors] will combine the synaptic and neural elements to fabricate and demonstrate “cortical microcircuits” that can model various lower-level brain functions and actually “learn” by interacting with the environment.

“The follow-on phases of the project will create a technology that functions like the brain of a cat, which comprises 108 neurons and 1012 synapses,” Dr. Narayan Srinivasa, SyNAPSE Program Manager and Senior Scientist, said. “The human brain has roughly 1011 neurons and 1015 synapses.”

The source article from Wired has plenty of interesting links in it.

This is only a few months after Henry Markram announced he wants to build an artificial rat brain and put it in a robot rat body in only two years.

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