Brain on a Chip, DARPA-style

ratneurononchip_color.gif

At places like Janelia Farm (the "Bell Labs for neurobiology" run by Howard Highes Medical Institute) engineers are already trying to apply existing knowledge about the intricate wiring diagrams of integrated circuits to the inseparable mess of synapses that clogs our brains.

Now DARPA is joining the fray, to the tune of $3 million. In its $3.29 billion FY 2009 budget, the DOD's research wing specifies a program to make a chip that looks and acts like a brain (whether that's a human brain or a fruit fly brain remains to be specified). They're calling it Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, or SyNAPSE.

"The program will develop a brain inspired electronic 'chip' that mimics that function, size, and power consumption of a biological cortex," DARPA promises us. "If successful, the program will provide the foundations for functional machines to supplement humans in many of the most demanding situations faced by warfighters today" -- like getting usable information out of video feeds, and starting tasks.

Wired's Danger Room has much more, including (but not limited to) the proposed unmanned ambulance in the sky.

Advertisement

Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.

Advertisement