11/28/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

IBM Joins Pentagon In Attempt To Create Electronic Cat Brains

IBM is that latest company to join in the Pentagon's quest to make electronics that mimic the "function, size, and power consumption" of a cat's brain.

"For intelligent machines to be useful, they must compete with biological systems," notes a recent presentation from Darpa, the Pentagon's way-out research division. But "compared to biological systems, today's intelligent machines are less efficient by a factor of a million to a billion in complex environments."

Darpa just gave Big Blue a $4,879,333 contract to start work on closing that gap. (Malibu's HRL Laboratories got a similar deal, a few weeks back.) If successful, the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project could produce machines with so much computing power packed into such a small space, they could signal the "dawn of a new age" of hyper-smart machines.

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