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Artificial brain '10 years away'

BBC NEWS | Technology | Artificial brain ’10 years away’.

A detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years, a leading scientist has claimed.

Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already simulated elements of a rat brain.

The Blue Brain project at Swizerland’s EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) was launched in 2005 and aims to reverse engineer the mammalian brain from laboratory data.

In particular, his team has focused on the neocortical column – repetitive units of the mammalian brain known as the neocortex.

The project now has a software model of “tens of thousands” of neurons – each one of which is different – which has allowed them to digitally construct an artificial neocortical column.

Although each neuron is unique, the team has found the patterns of circuitry in different brains have common patterns.

To make the model come alive, the team feeds the models and a few algorithms into a supercomputer.

“You need one laptop to do all the calculations for one neuron,” he said. “So you need ten thousand laptops.”

Instead, he uses an IBM Blue Gene machine with 10,000 processors.

For example, they can show the brain a picture – say, of a flower – and follow the electrical activity in the machine.

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