IBM's claim of simulating a cat cortex generated quite a buzz last week, but now the head researcher from the Blue Brain project, a team that is working to simulate its own animal brain (a rat's), has gone incandescent with fury over the what he calls the "mass deception of the public."
Henry Markram leads the Blue Brain project that successfully simulated a self-organizing slice of rat brain at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. He has issued a point-by-point denouncement of the cat claim that bubbles with outrage at IBM Almaden's Dharmendra Modha.
"There is no qualified neuroscientist on the planet that would agree that this is even close to a cat's brain," Markram writes in his e-mail to IBM. "I see he [Modha] did not stop making such stupid statements after they claimed they simulated a mouse's brain."
Markram calls the IBM simulation a "hoax and a PR stunt" that any parallel machine cluster could replicate. He adds that creating a billion interactive virtual neuron points represents no meaningful achievement as far as simulating intelligence, but merely reflects the brute supercomputing power at IBM's disposal.
"We could do the same simulation immediately, this very second by just loading up some network of points on such a machine, but it would just be a complete waste of time -- and again, I would consider it shameful and unethical to call it a cat simulation," Markram says. He suggested that IBM's simulation feat does not even reach the levels of ant intelligence.
The Blue Brain researcher concludes by expressing his shock at IBM and DARPA's support of the virtual feline brain, and says that he would have expected an ethics committee to "string Modha up by his toes." Yikes.
Still, Markram has a point. Creating any sort of artificial intelligence has long represented a difficult and arduous process, and so expecting a miracle breakthrough seems unlikely. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to the novel Good Omens, where Hell's agent Crowley owns "an unconnected fax machine with the intelligence of a computer and a computer with the intelligence of a retarded ant." To add some more perspective, that book was published back in 1990.
Why cant they simulate every cell down to the molecule and fold of each preteen. Now that would be a show of brute force worth wowing over.
@animemaster: You mean each protein, right?
Oh, well. So much for progress - not to mention professional ethics.
Still, if Blue Gene really is only as smart as an ant's brain, then at least we have a little more time before superintelligent AIs rise up to enslave us.
Even comparing it to an Ant's brain is quite a leap, a point neuron simulation is definitely not capable of the behavioral intelligence displayed by insects.
Hey I love the Popsci, but mabey you guys could do a little more fact checking in the future. I mean a small question here and there could do wonders.
You cant have scandels like this without a mouth. (The mouth is you Popsci)
Good point thor0997, maybe popsci should slow down on some of there articles before they publish them for risk of liable. While it maybe accurate to publish what someone has claimed, ie. The Blue Brain Project, sometimes it is not right.
I think Popsci is publishing at a great speed, and I don't think they should slow down. Yes they make mistakes, but as long as they discover and (this is the important part) admit those mistakes then pop sci will always be my favorite science news outlet. In fact, I want to congratulate the writer of this article for having the balls to come clean and admit that popsci had published a falsity. That's what great reporting is all about: Being honest, even when it makes you look foolish. After all, all publishers make mistakes but only those publishers that admit their mistakes are doing their very best to report honestly.
Lastly, the mis-information that was published was not entirely PopSci's fault. They were simply going with a story that was an unfortunate lie by, what I now want to call, the despicable IBM company. At the end of the day it is IBM not PopSci that lost credibility points from me. To all the PopSci employees out there: Keep up the good work. :)
So, a competing scientest disagrees -- so what. The acacdemic community is filled with disputes, although most of them are confined to to letters and articles in some obscure journal ("Professor Xnthi's point 1.i.2 is completely contraindicated by earlier research" )
Maybe IBM is right and the complaints are sour grapes, or maybe they're just making statements that are technically accurate, but imply much more -- I don't know. Let's see if they respond.
In any case, I don't blame PS in this case, they're simply reporting claims by a relatively reputable organization.
BTW, most of the commentors could use a bit of spelling review.
I think Henry Markham has every right to, and probably is correct to, complain. He created a simulation that took off on its own and started creating new neural pathways. If he says he can recreate IBM's simulation on the spot, I'd take his word.
I hope there are some repercussions for IBM out of this. At least a massive loss of credibility.
Like Benshums said, often you will find a link at the bottom of PopSci's articles directing you back to the original article. In this case, PopSci was simply spreading the news.
When PopSci's articles are original and they are indeed the ones reporting on something, I have only positive things to say about the caliber of their writing staff. Blame "IEEE Spectrum" for the mistakes you are talking about.
Don't shoot the messenger.
Actually it is me that owes the apology now. "IEEE Spectrum" had nothing to do with the original story, it was actually broken by the Associated Press and "PhysOrg."
1. Take foot.
2. Insert into mouth.
3. Repeat as necessary.
lol a hoax look how corrupt humans are we say we are geniuses for fame and get shuned. lololololololololololololol
I dont like shooting messengers, but if the leading science magazine posts an article about how TERRORISTS ROBOTS ATTACK, and then cause a panic, who are we to blame. Look at how people reacted to the War of the Worlds broadcast.
But mistakes are mistakes. Sometimes they are good in that they show us that Popsci isnt just a machine pumping out articles.
I'm certainly no expert, but I understood "simulating a cat's brain" to mean simulating the organization and basic function of a cat's brain, not full-blown creation of artificial intelligence. How is a simulated cortex the same thing as artificial intelligence?
all you haters are gonna put popsci out of business. as benshums said, they're only reporting what's going on. no one yell at the newspapers when gov't officials lie, so why would you yell at popsci writers. if you're so displeased, go read another science magazine's website.
Thats the whole thing striker. I want them to be careful so people wont go to other science magazines. I like Popsci thats why i want then to be awesome.
Imagine for a moment that all the other mags made the mistake and Popsci looked into it and had an article up saying how they researched the topic and found that IBM was full of it. That is a bump for credability which is THE THING in journalism.
The only way the PhysOrg article mentions cats is to say the network “exceeds the scale of a cat cortex.”
Whatever happened it wasn't Pop-Sci's fault, so I shall still remain loyal to them :)
IBM did pose their project as if it were almost a done deal, but I did not take their triumphant grandstanding as anything but. My wife was curious, and I told her that it was more than likely that they'd made mapping advances that would allow them to start isolating single impulse nerve functions in their simulator for baseline cause and effect. I understood that we are still a long way away from anything we could reasonably call an A.I., but maybe I'm just jaded, and expect a manufacturers' claims to be borderline on dishonest. So not to worry, PopSci, I was a subscriber before, and I'll be one for the foreseeable future. You just owe us an article now...our choice.
>How is a simulated cortex the same thing as
When it runs. = ) If you can input the appropriate stimuli and receive the appropriate responses, then yeah, it's AI. But yeah, there's also a big difference between building the shell to run the Cat Virtual Machine and writing a running copy of CatOS. = )
well, the ibm just MODELED the cat brain, i dont think they attempted to get cat intellegence, i mean from a beetle to a cat is too huge of a step, even for ibm