IBM’s new chip – a silicon brain

While not strictly medicine, this technology has vast implications for health care. Real-time artificial intelligence analysis of lab and clinical data will become a reality.

“The chip, or processor, is named TrueNorth and was developed by researchers at IBM and detailed in an article published on Thursday in the journal Science. It tries to mimic the way brains recognize patterns, relying on densely interconnected webs of transistors similar to the brain’s neural networks.

“The TrueNorth chip is like the first transistor,” said Terrence J. Sejnowski, director of the Salk Institute’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6197/668

IBM’s Watson enters medicine

IBM’s first TV commercial advertising Watson’s capabilities in medicine. I find this system incredibly fascinating. Medicine has evolved to the point where it is no longer possible to know every aspect of every disease. Watson promises to help doctors improve diagnosis and better tailor treatments to individual patients.

Watson’s technical specifications:

  • 90 IBM Power 750 servers enclosed in 10 racks
  • 16 Terabytes of memory
  • A 2,880 processor core
  • Linux system
  • While not officially disclosed by IBM, Watson is estimated to have cost $1-$2 billion
  • Uses “DeepQA”: a technology that enables computer systems to directly and precisely answer natural language questions over an open and broad range of knowledge
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