IBM cognitive computing initiative manager Dharmendra Modha believes computers capable of mimicking the human brain's power and efficiency could be just 10 years off. The goal is to create new brain-like computing architectures that can analyze and make sense of colossal amounts of data to tackle complex problems.
Modha said that examples of what could be done with computers working at this scale are realistic analysis of the world's water supply systems, or financial systems. The idea is to detect causality behind phenomena, and to make those connections quickly and effortlessly, the way the human brain works. Writing such a program using today's computers would be impossible, he said, but these future computers would be able to quickly distill answers to these kinds of enormous problems.
There's no promise, of course, that Modha and his colleagues will be able to advance the difference between the power of the cat and human cortexes in the next decade. After all, there's a difference of a factor of 20 between the two. But he sounded optimistic that a decade is a realistic goal.