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To create a computer as powerful as the human brain, perhaps we first need to build one that works more like a brain. Today, at the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks in Dallas, IBM researchers will unveil a radically new computer architecture designed to bring that goal within reach. Using simulations of enormous complexity, they show that the architecture, named TrueNorth, could lead to a new generation of machines that function more like biological brains.

The announcement builds on IBM’s ongoing projects in cognitive computing. In 2011, the research team released computer chips that use a network of “neurosynaptic cores” to manage information in a way that resembles the functioning of neurons in a brain (see “IBM’s New Chips Compute More Like We Do”). With TrueNorth, the researchers demonstrate a way to use those chips for specific tasks, and they show that the approach could be used to build, among other things, a more efficient biologically inspired visual sensor.

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