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Print 22 comment(s) - last by AnnihilatorX.. on Nov 26 at 6:00 AM


  (Source: ICanHasCheezBurger)
Leading neuroscientist accuses government-funded researcher of deception

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the premier funding branch of the Pentagon, has poured $5M USD into a project with IBM to make electronics that mimic the "size, function, and power consumption" of a cat brain.  And last week, it appeared that a major breakthrough had been made with IBM’s lead researcher on the project, Dharmendra Modha, claiming to have simulated all the neurons and synapses of the cat brain on a supercomputer.

Now the accuracy of that claim and the validity of the project is being called into question.  Henry Markham, a leading neuroscientist blasted the project and Mr. Modha's claims calling them a "hoax".  Ironically, Mr. Markham also works on a project affiliated with IBM, dubbed "Blue Brain".  He complains that Mr. Modha simply put together a "PR stunt here to ride on Blue Brain.”

He describes in an open letter to Bernard Myerson, IBM’s Chief Technology Officer, "What IBM reported is a scam - no where near a cat-scale brain simulation.  I am absolutely shocked at this announcement. Not because it is any kind of technical feat, but because of the mass deception of the public."

He continues:

All these kinds of simulations are trivial and have been around for decades - simply called artificial neural network (ANN) simulations. We even stooped to doing these kinds of simulations as bench mark tests 4 years ago with 10’s of millions of such points… If we (or anyone else) wanted to we could easily do this for a billion “points”, but we would certainly not call it a cat-scale simulation. It is really no big deal to simulate a billion points interacting if you have a big enough computer. The only step here is that they have at their disposal a big computer. For a grown up “researcher” to get excited because one can simulate billions of points interacting is ludicrous.
This is light years away from a cat brain, not even close to an ants brain in complexity. It is highly unethical of Mohda to mislead the public in making people believe they have actually simulated a cat’s brain…. That IBM and DARPA would support such deceptive announcements is even more shocking.

Mr. Modha had claimed last week that his simulation of a billion neurons and 10 trillion neural synapses on IBM hardware was roughly the equivalent of a cat brain.  His colleagues lauded the accomplishment, with some comparing his work to the magnitude of work done on the Large Hadron Collider project.

Mr. Myerson's criticism is diverse.  Among other things he says that the point representation of neurons are incomplete as they don't simulate the complex effects of ion channels or more complex phenomena like neuronal branching. 

He says the "brain" developed isn't even as complex as an ant brain and is hardly praise worthy.



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RE: Brain science
By uibo on 11/24/2009 4:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
You missed it sort of.

Why should a brain do anything with the first impulses it receives from the eyes?
Why would it assume that the impulses represent the surrounding environment?

Why/how do different brain regions develop and could you program it into a artificial neural network. For me the "function" part of their claim seems impossible.


RE: Brain science
By acronos on 11/25/2009 3:23:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why should a brain do anything with the first impulses it receives from the eyes?
Why would it assume that the impulses represent the surrounding environment?


And how does a thermostat know to turn on and off the air conditioner? Why should it do anything with the first impulses it receives from thermister? Why would it assume that the impulses represent the surrounding environment?

Why do you assume that just because you are talking about something attached to a human body, that it has all of the personality and characteristics in and of itself of a full blown human?


RE: Brain science
By uibo on 11/25/2009 3:50:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And how does a thermostat know to turn on and off the air conditioner? Why should it do anything with the first impulses it receives from thermister? Why would it assume that the impulses represent the surrounding environment?


Obviously an air conditioner is a system designed knowing all its parts and how they "interact" with each other in advance. Brain science is in its infancy. Can we design anything functional?

quote:
Why do you assume that just because you are talking about something attached to a human body, that it has all of the personality and characteristics in and of itself of a full blown human?


I did not mention humans.
I do not believe in spirits, souls, ghosts, god, afterlife.
The article said:
quote:
mimic the "size, function , and power consumption" of a cat brain

I do believe that what we define as a "personality" is a product of brain function.


RE: Brain science
By chagrinnin on 11/25/2009 5:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
Wait,...my cat has a poop organ!?


RE: Brain science
By AnnihilatorX on 11/26/2009 6:00:47 AM , Rating: 2
"function" in brains evolves as the animal grows.
The basic structure for processing visual, auditory information, etc are genetically coded. How to process them is by evolving the connection of neurons at these inlets. Impulses promote neuron growth in vicinity in a random fashion until a structured output (organised information) is obtained. The brain has to learn to optimise and extract information from this organisation of data. This is also how self-learning artificial neuron network works, basically organise data output and produce different patterns depending on inputs.


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