Is the TrueNorth Chip the Next Step Towards ‘the Singularity?’

by Barrett

If you’re thinking the future isn’t going to look anything like the fantastical scripts of your favorite sci-fi films, don’t be so sure.  Maybe all it takes is a little tech breakthrough buried in today’s headlines…

If you’re thinking the future isn’t going to look anything like the fantastical scripts of your favorite sci-fi films, don’t be so sure. Maybe all it takes is a little tech breakthrough buried in today’s headlines…

Have you heard about TrueNorth?
It’s a new computer chip developed by IBM, that’s designed like the neural pathways of the human brain and is intended to mimic the way your noggin recognizes patterns.

Its power requirements are super low, and the one million ‘neurons’ in this revolutionary, ‘neuromorphic’ chip are about as complex as the brain of a bee.

No, it’s not the fastest game in town.
But remember… its sting is just the first generation.

The Pentagon has been funding IBM’s research with the goal of creating ultralow-power biological processors to automate some of the surveillance done by military drones.

There’s a Storm Coming
So I stumbled across all this while scanning the news headlines and sat back to digest this development:

  • There’s now a computer chip out there already about as smart as a bee.
  • It uses the ‘same wiring rules and architecture’ of the human brain.
  • The design is a breakthrough in computing technology.
  • It’s funded by the Pentagon.
  • And one day, our military drones will be using them.

I’m not quite sure how to feel…
It’s both exciting and a little scary.

And there’s something else-
A sense of déjà vu.

Like this was all part of a story I had already read… or seen.

Are you getting it too?

Come on…

Let me give you a hint:

“I’LL BE BACK.”

Rise of the Machines
Yes, doesn’t this whole story read like a discarded pre-credit sequence from 1984’s “The Terminator?”

This cautionary tale doesn’t specifically address how the technology of the government-funded, self-aware Skynet was originally created.
Although “Terminator 2” does spend some time with the scientist who reverse engineered the CPU remaining from the first Terminator’s damaged arm.
(too much geeky detail?)

Now take today’s headlines about TrueNorth, and I think this reality-based plot addition would fit seamlessly into the fictional history of “The Terminator” movie series.

And if anyone out there is thinking of making a Terminator prequel, the first page of your script is already written for you…

Pop Quiz: Fact or Fiction?
Look, I’m not saying that TrueNorth is the first step towards the evil Skynet or the murderous HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Maybe TrueNorth will evolve into the heroic cybernetic brain that “Star Trek’s” ‘Data’ uses. There are lots of possible positive directions for TrueNorth to improve our society.

I just find it so intriguing to witness another blending of fact and fiction involving today’s technology. There are already so many examples of yesterday’s sci-fi becoming today’s science fact.
(Just walk into any Apple Store.)

I think we’re becoming so accustomed to this merging of realities, that we’re less inclined to recognize it, even if it’s front and center in a news headline.

Stay Tuned for the Singularity
And the pace of tech innovation isn’t slowing down…

Ultimately, in the not so distant future, you’ll likely have to adjust to the birth of ‘the singularity,’ when artificial intelligence leaves the best human brains in the dust.

Some scientists say that’s the day computers will take over the world.

You are Obsolete
No, a robotic Terminator is probably not going to be knocking on your door any time soon.

All I’m saying is…
You should pay close attention to innovations like TrueNorth.
(Incremental as they may seem…)

Otherwise, you might wake up one day and find a giant bee in your kitchen… with a higher IQ than you, sipping your favorite coffee, and surfing Amazon to buy some handy ‘human-be-gone’ spray.

Ouch… now that really stings!

Evolution can be a rude awakening.

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