IBM is boasting that its latest supercomputer is significantly smarter than your average cat.

The computing giant has announced a software simulation of a mammalian cerebral cortex that it says is more complex than a cat's.

Which is quite a boast, really, seeing as cats have the ability to make humans feed them and stroke them and in return they get to lie around all day on a beanbag, occasionally having a little stretch or a nice yawn.

AI trouble brewing

If a computer were able to convince humans to let it do the same things as a cat convinces us to do, then we would certainly be in All Kinds Of Trouble!

Seriously though, IBM researchers presented a paper at the SC09 supercomputing conference claiming a major milestone in the development of cognitive computing - a brain simulator that boasts around 4.5 per cent the cerebral cortex capacity of a human brain.

This is no mere guesstimate, either. The new simulator runs on the Dawn Blue Gene /P supercomputer with 147,456 CPUs and 144TB of main memory and simulates the activity of 1.617 billion neurons connected in a network of 8.87 trillion synapses.

The sim is so accurate and so complex that it raises all kinds of thorny philosophical questions. For example, the researchers describe what they call the "BrainCam" as follows:

"When combined with the mammalian-scale models now possible... the flood of data can be overwhelming from a computational (for example, the total amount of data can be many terabytes) and human perspective (the visualization of the data can be too large or too detailed)."

Dave? Move away from the big red button.

Dave?

Via Ars Technica