While Watson, IBM’s semantic wonder, impressed us all last year, computers are still a long way from being the robotic brains that Hollywood likes to present. Computers can do almost anything, but they still just do what they are told. However, the Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network, or Spaun, is quickly moving into the next category of thinking for itself.

Gizmodo brought this interesting news to our attention in their article, “The Most Realistic Artificial Brain Has A Mind Of Its Own.” Developed by neuroscientists and software engineers at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Spaun includes a 784-pixel digital eye, and a robotic arm for writing. However, the real fireworks are in the 2.5 million simulated neurons that are used to emulate parts of a human brain like the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and thalamus. Using all those neurons, it can think through questions and solve limited problems the same way a human brain can, albeit in a much more limited sense.

This is an exciting project to watch and see how it develops.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.