August 19, 2011, 12:11 PM — You've probably already seen a lot of gushing coverage about a huge breakthrough in artificial intelligence:
- IBM breakthrough allows to build a microprocessor able to emulate – to some extent – the human brain's ability to perceive the world around it, choose an appropriate response and think about what it's done.
- IBM is bringing "brain power to experimental chips," according to PCWorld. It has produced chips "capable of perception, action and cognition" that "mimic the brain," according to the U.K.'s Inquirer newspaper.
- "Kardassian Wedding to be Attended by Space Aliens," claims the U.S.' own Enquirer, though it's not clear to me how that's relevant to the IBM project.
The new processors, which go by the name SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics), are a huge achievement for specialists in processor design and development of more complex artificial intelligence.
It's a huge potential disaster for the rest of us.
The SyNAPSE chips have only 256 neuron-like nodes and 262,144 programmable synapses, compared to billions in the human brain, and is only a small step toward computing with a real resemblance to the processes of a human brain, according to the IBM Cognitive Computing division that produced the chip and Dharmendra Modha, its director. .
According to a description in MSNBC's story, the brain-like chip "not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment — all while rivaling the human brain's compact size and low power usage."
IBM and MSNBC are right in assuming human brains do this to a certain extent every day. They don't mention that human brains that develop intense, psychotic needs to kill all humans do the same thing, but far more frequently, to keep up with dynamic changes in reality demanded by the voices in their heads.
Even in completely sane humans, the ability to filter and misinterpret sensory data protects the brain from sensory overload and gives it the ability to choose the reality it sees and ignore evidence that its choice could be not only a mistake, but a disaster.