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How to Build Intelligent Machines

December 10, 2010

Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems (CNS) Massimiliano Versace and CNS PhD candidate Ben Chandler are featured on the cover of the December issue of IEEE Spectrum, a publication of the world's largest professional technology association. The feature article describes the ongoing effort at BU to build brain-like computational models to run on the next generation of low-power and massively parallel computer chips.

This effort is part of the DARPA SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) project in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard. The SyNAPSE project was launched in late 2008 and aims to investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in neuromorphic electronic devices that are scalable to biological levels." DARPA has awarded funds to three prime contractors (HP, IBM, and HRL), with both HP and HRL working with Boston University researchers in the NSF-funded CELEST Science of Learning Center, where the Neuromorphics Lab is housed.

In the article, Versace and Chandler talk about recent trends in bio-inspired computing, and how these are going to shape the future of neuroscience research and the computer industry in general. In particular, the article explains how technology based on memristors is enabling the manufacturing of new nanoscale computing devices. Memristors bring memory and computation close together by mimicking a neuron's synapses, which results in smaller, faster, and more efficient computer chips that can be used to implement brain-like computations in applications ranging from robotics to image processing to intelligent data analysis.

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