Siri: Squeak Squeak

By: Dubem M.

Ever since computers have existed there has always been a fascination around them. How do they see the world, is there another world inside of the piece or technology, are they alive, can they feel? Humans have always created creative output about this topic. Many movies are based this like the following: The Matrix, Tron, Transcendence, Ex Machina, and The Terminator, and we may have taken our first step to that future.

In August, IBM announced that they had created a chip that had the same power as a rodent’s brain. This is one of the most powerful computing systems created yet. This system has the equivalent of 31,000 brain cells, of 207 different types, with 37 million connections. Not only is it an intricate system of digital neurons but it also has a 3D model that has a stark resemblance to actual neurons in the brain. This experiment is part of the Blue Brain Project, whose purpose is to eventually create a human brain in a computer.

To do this the scientists working on it had to analyse the structure and interactions of a live brain. They then had to figure out the single rule that governed over the neurons and how they interacted. They created artificial neurons by substituting them with chips. From there they created a 3D version of the brain and its neurons, so now they had thousands of individual neurons. After that, they connected the neurons to create synapses or connections between neurons. This resulted in over 37 million connections/synapses. When they eventually made the rule, they applied it to the digital neurons. They realized that the neurons firing worked and executed just like a real brain’s neurons would. Both the digital and real life brain tissue showed the triplet-firing pattern. This is when three neurons fire consecutively in a precise time sequence. Further studying revealed “chorist” and “soloist” neurons. Chroist neurons would fire based on the neurons firing in close proximity to them. On the other hand, soloists seemed to fire independently.

This experiment could result in infinite possibilities for the future. Humans would finally be able to accurately see the brain as it works, computes and understands the world around it. It would help in treating things from mental illnesses to neurosurgery. We have already found out that higher calcium levels put the brain tissue into a sleep-like pattern. We could use this computing power to create the most powerful devices ever. Imagine you could hook your brain up to a computer and sending your entire brain like an email to the other side of the planet! Imagine you could upload your favourite celebrity as your personal Siri. The world of the brain is an unbridled and untapped section that can open our eyes to a true treasure rooted deep in human psychology.


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