WATSON, it seems, was only the beginning.
Not content with building a computer that can win Jeopardy without breaking an electronic sweat, IBM has announced plans to create a “cognitive computer” that will simulate the same number of neurons as the human brain, yet run on less energy than the supercomputer that made Ken Jennings look like an average human being.
The company’s SVP and Director of Research John Kelly explained during a Capitol Hill briefing yesterday that “Computer systems are becoming more bioinspired,” which may also account for the desire to create a supercomputer that runs on less than the 85 KW of electricity that WATSON needed; the human brain “runs on 20 watts of electricity,” Kelly said.
The project, expected to be completed within the next ten years, is being worked on in cooperation with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The two have already created a computer that simulated the same number of neurons found in a cat.
IBM has not confirmed whether the cognitive computer will be named HAL and be unable to open the bay doors, Dave.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.