IBM Develops New Brainlike Chip, 180,000x More Efficient Than Modern CPUs

IBM Develops New Brainlike Chip 2
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The new chip developed by IBM has 4096 cores, 1 million programmable neurons, and 5.4 billion transistors, heralding what some are calling a new era in computing.

The chip, called TrueNorth, is the most advanced neuromorphic (brain-like) chip created, and is incredibly efficient.

The chip consumes only 72 milliwatts at maximum load–equivalent to 400 billion synaptic operations per second per watt. The chip is therefore around 180,000 times more efficient than a modern CPU, and almost 800 times more efficient than other cutting-edge neuromorphic approaches.

IBM Develops New Brainlike Chip 2

Spokespeople for IBM commented on the TrueNorth chip, “One of the key problems with developing a new chip based on a novel architecture is that you also have to create developer tools and software that actually make efficient use of those thousands of cores and billions of synapses. Fortunately, IBM’s already got that covered: Last year it released a specialized programming language (Corelet) and simulator (Compass) that let you program and test your neuromorphic programs before running them on actual hardware.”

“Ultimately, the main purpose of the SyNAPSE project is to take existing systems that simulate the functionality of the brain in software — such as deep neural networks — and run them on hardware that was specifically designed for the task. As you may already know, dedicated hardware tends to orders of magnitude more efficient than simulating/emulating the hardware in software on a general-purpose CPU. This is why IBM is touting some utterly incredible efficiency figures for TrueNorth. For neural networks with high spike rates and a large number of active synapses, TrueNorth can deliver 400 billion synaptic operations per second (SOPS) per watt. When running the exact same neural network, a general-purpose CPU is 176,000 times less energy efficient, while a state-of-the-art multiprocessor neuromorphic system (48 chips, each with 18 cores) is 769 times less efficient. While it’s not directly comparable, the world’s most efficient supercomputer only manages around 4.5 billion FLOPS per watt.

IBM Develops New Brainlike Chip 2

“I don’t think IBM is actually getting back into the consumer electronics market (though that would be amusing). Rather, this is just a concept of the kind of thing the TrueNorth chip might one day enable.”

A technical reserach paper was published in Science today, titled “A million spiking-neuron integrated circuit with a scalable communication network and interface.”

By Andy Stern

Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as the Sails You Are Familiar With: the Wind Wing

Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (10)
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The Greenbird Wind Wing was designed and built under two San Francisco-based entrepreneurs, and has been proposed as a means of cutting down on the over $1 million tax dollars San Francisco spends on its inefficient diesel-powered ferry system. The engineers behind the project have said that the project has demonstrated that it could save 30-40 percent of the ferry fuel bill.

The entrepreneurs, Jay Gardner, president of Wind Wing Technologies and British engineer, Photon Composits Inc. president and yacht sailor Richard Jenkins, have experience in sail engineering. In 2009, Greenbird set the America’s cup landsailing speed record for a wind-powered craft, and is currently pursuing the ice craft speed record.

The ferry system in San Francisco Bay is seldom used by commuters–primarily its is used when emergencies Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (12)knock out the Bay bridge. The ferries are also very costly and inefficient.

Twenty-five government-subsidized ferries use over a million dollars worth of fuel per year–some of them use 300 gallons per hour of use–according to Jenkins. The diesel produces greenhouse gasses, and the Wind Wing has been proposed as a greener, cleaner, cheaper option.

“Traditional sails are basically one side of a wing,” said Gardner. “The benefit of the Wing is that you have two sides, and its a very precise shape.

Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (4)
Jay Gardner

“So an equal sized soft sail and a Wing–the Wing is going to be about twice as effective, twice as powerful.”

“The Wing is 45 feet tall,” said Jenkins. “Front to back is 10 feet. It weighs roughly 600 pounds [272 kilograms]. It’s a very light structure, so it will be insignificant to the weight of the ferry.

Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (5)
Richard Jenkins

“And it’s potentially very powerful. These ferries are travelling along at 30 or 40 knots sometimes, and it can produce six or seven tons of force at full speed, if required.

“The Wing also has, inside of it, a brain,” explained Gardner. “It has a GPS system. It has a satellite tracking system. It has a vessel data recording system. It knows where it is. It knows where you’re going. All we have to do is turn the Wing on and off.”

Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (9)The engineers are not marketing the Wind Wing to sailors.

“The people who drive big ships are not sailors,” said Jenkins. “So, there’s kind of discontinuity between wind-power systems and the people on the boat, who are just not going to use those systems.

“What this Wing does is completely autonomous. The crew doesn’t need to know anything about the Wing or how it works. There’s literally an on-off system.

“We do that by having a feathering tail system. The tail on an airplane controls the pitch and the lift. We have a vertical tail that controls the wing and hence the power that the wing produces.

“If it can make power for the boat it will do. If it can’t, it just feathers and its kind of a benign thing on the ship.

Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (11)“The ferries in the area, they use certainly over a million dollars worth of fuel per year. Twenty-five ferries. We’ve demonstrated that we can save 30 to 40 percent of the fuel costs.”

The designers spoke about the future of the Wing. The future depends on policy- and lawmakers to adopt to environmental demands.

“Are they going to insist that the technology is included in the next generation of ferries?” Jenkins asked.Engineering Team Builds Sail Twice as Effective, Twice as Powerful as The Sails You Are Familiar With The Wind Wing (8)

The Greenbird Project is a partnership between Ecotricity and British engineer Richard Jenkins, to push the boundaries of wind technologies for zero carbon-emitted, wind-powered transportation.

World’s Highest Res Satellite Images Now Available Commercially, With Infrared and CAVIS Technology

Costa Concordia satellite image
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The world’s most advanced commercial high-resolution satellite is now operational. DigitalView’s WorldView-3–the company’s sixth super-spectral, hi-res satellite–was launched this week, and offers photo resolution at five times the clarity of its nearest competitor. The satellite also DigitalView's WorldView-3provides infrared and CAVIS, and can photograph through smoke, fog and haze and correct for cloud, aerosol, water vapor, ice and snow.

The satellite was launched on a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California last week, and is being offered for a number of commercial enterprises.

Syria fire
Homs, Syria pipeline fire

Natural disasters have already been photographed by DigitalGlobe’s satellite, such as New Jersey’s beaches during Hurricane Sandy, wildfires at High West Park, Colorado, the flood at Bangkok International Airport, and so have man-made events, such as the Gulf of Mexico spill, the Costa Concordia’s capsizing and Syrian pipeline fires.

World's Highest Res Commercial Satellite Now in Business, With Infrared and CAVIS Technology (9)
Subi reef, China construction

Serving political needs, China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier, Cairo’s Tahrir Square, North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear research center, Osama bin Laden’s compound and the Obama inauguration in Washington, DC have been documented in hi-res photographs.

Militarily, Australia’s Exmouth Naval Communications Station, the Pentagon, Pearl Harbor and Pyongyang’s military parades have been photographed, and culturally, Peru’s Machu Pichu, Egypt’s and Sudan’s pyramids, and the Colosseum have been captured.

World's Highest Res Commercial Satellite Now in Business, With Infrared and CAVIS Technology (3)
Chinese carrier Varyag

Jeffrey Tarr, DigitalGlobe’s Chief Executive Officer announced the inauguration of the new satellite, “The successful launch of WorldView-3 extends DigitalGlobe’s commanding technological lead and will enable us to help our customers see through smoke, peer beneath the ocean’s surface and determine the mineral and moisture content of the earth below — all with unprecedented clarity.”

World's Highest Res Commercial Satellite Now in Business, With Infrared and CAVIS Technology (6)
Burning Man, Nevada

WorldView-3 is capable of 0.31 meter resolution super-spectral imagery–clarity five times that of DigitalGlobe’s nearest competitor. It also offers multiple shortwave infrared (SWIR) bands to photograph the earth through haze, fog, smoke and other airborn particles.

World's Highest Res Commercial Satellite Now in Business, With Infrared and CAVIS Technology (7)
Mt. Fuji, Japan

Another feature individual to WorldView-3 is CAVIS, an instrument that corrects atmospheric distortions due to cloud, aerosol, water vapor, ice and snow.

World's Highest Res Commercial Satellite Now in Business, With Infrared and CAVIS Technology (8)
Three Gorges Dam, China

“The unmatched abilities that WorldView-3 brings to our constellation will enable us to provide our customers with information and insight never before possible and advance our efforts to create a living digital inventory of the earth,” said Tarr.

By Sid Douglas

New Invention Can Make Clean Water Using Wood, Plastic and Water: the Water Lens

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With a wood frame, some plastic and water, 99 percent of bacteria can be eliminated from unclean water, using a structure created by University of Buffalo, New York student Deshawn Henry. The project has the potential to provide clean water to developing water lensnations around the world, where millions currently have no access to clean water for drinking and washing.

“In the best hopes,” Henry told The Speaker, “the water lens could possibly become a savior for hundreds of thousands of people in many developing countries in the world, such as in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Not only would this development save hundreds of thousands of lives, but it will also give those people a better state of mind, knowing that they can drink the water without fear of contracting most types of water-borne diseases.”

Henry studies at the University of Buffalo‘s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering in New York.

The water lens is a six-foot tall structure. At the top of a simple wood frame, a plastic sheet is covered with water, creating the “water lens.” Below the water lens a small container of water is positioned in line with the beam of light focused by the lens.

The water lens can heat a litre of water to between 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit in just over an hour. At this temperature, 99 percent of bacteria and other pathogens are killed.

The structure needs only sunlight to work, although due to the sun’s movement the lens needs to be shifted throughout the day.

Water LensWhen we asked Henry about the potential of the water lens to help those in need of clean water, he spoke of the potential benefits not only for less fortunate regions, but also of shared benefits.

“I feel that this development does indeed tie America and other nations closer together. I think it’s a very positive thing because it allows us to help others in need who aren’t as fortunate as we are here in the great USA.

“Sharing this type of technology with countries who need this type of phenomenal development is key to strengthening our relationships with the other countries of the world. Everyone on this Earth deserves to able to live their lives with access to good, clean water, and that is just what I hope this project will eventually accomplish.”

Unclean water is a global problem. Over one billion people lack access to clean water. Approximately 3.4 million people die annually from water-related diseases–1,400 children under age five daily.

Read more: WarkaWater Towers to Service Earth’s Desert Hydration Needs 

“Millions of people die every year from diseases and pathogens found in unclean water, and they can’t help it because that’s all they have. Either they drink it or they die,” said Henry.

The World Health Organization suggests at least 7.5 litres of water per day to meet minimum human requirements. Additional water is required for basic hygiene and basic food hygiene, and laundry and bathing require additional water as well.

The lens does have some limitations. Some water-borne bacteria are temperature resistant. However, many serious bacteria and other pathogens commonly found in water can be eliminated through boiling, such as E.coli, Vibrio cholera, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella typhii, enteritidis, and paratyphi, and Rotavirus.

deshawn henry
Deshawn Henry

The next phase of Henry’s project is to construct a larger version of the current water lens. A lens at least three times the size of the current model would have to be constructed to boil water for a family of five.

“Our next step in the research is to create a bigger lens that can heat more liters of water in the same amount of time it took to heat one liter of water… I wish to continue my research on this project with my mentor hopefully next summer.

“In places like Africa, where there is a lot more sunlight there than here in the US, the previous lens could clean at least 5 liters of water per day on a sunny day. If we can successfully construct a bigger lens that is as efficient as the previous one, we could potentially double or even triple the amount of water treated per day, given that there is good weather when the solar disinfection is taking place.”

By James Haleavy

Ten-Year-Old CG Girl “Sweetie” Used to Collect Identities of 1,000 Online Sex Predators From Chatrooms


Amsterdam-based advertising agency Lemz created a CG 10-year old to enter chatrooms and collect 1,000 identities of participants in a form of child sex tourism called webcam child sex tourism. The advertising team spent 10 weeks of 10-hour days hunting for predators. This week, the children’s charity Terre des Hommes, which was partly responsible for the Sweetie campaign, won the Cannes Lemz teamLions Festival of Creativity for the project.

Sweetie is a computer model who looks and moves like a real girl, according to Lemz. Sweetie is animated by capturing the movements of a real person with a camera and motion sensors and applying them to the model. Every movement the Ten-Year-Old CG Girl Used to Collect Identities of 1,000 Online Sex Predators From Chatrooms (11)real person makes–down to blinking–is replicated in Sweetie. “Men think she’s sitting in front of a webcam in the Philippines, but she’s actually operated by Terre des Hommes from a warehouse in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. While Sweetie is chatting we track down the men.”

child sex tourism“As a marketer, the model I used to understand this problem was one of supply and demand,” said Lemz’s Mark Woerde. “It was clear to me that the demand-side needed to be stopped in order to stop growth of the ‘supply’ of child victims.”

Lemz began researching online predators before they conceived of Sweetie. The team went online after reading an article about webcam child sex tourism. The team entered a random chatroom and claimed to be an adult male from Holland.

An 8-year-old Filipino boy contacted them and “almost immediately offered to take off his clothes if [Woerde] sent him some money.” Woerde immediately closed his laptop and cried, he later said.

After days thinking about the Filipino boy she had encountered, Woerde decided to imitate that child to catch predators in the act and convince them to identify themselves. “We would turn the vulnerability of these children into a weapon against their abusers,” stated Woerde.

Ten-Year-Old CG Girl Used to Collect Identities of 1,000 Online Sex Predators From Chatrooms (4)Lemz’s art directors worked with artists and animators at Motek Entertainment and Brekel 3D to create Sweetie. Four Lemz staff members then spent 10 weeks of 10-hour days in chatrooms as Sweetie, collecting names, locations and webcam footage until 1,000 such predators were netted.

The predators netted by Sweetie resided in 71 countries and all but 1 were male.

Lemz then delivered their research to Interpol as evidence. Lemz also began a global PR campaign.

Woerde said that she hoped the “campaign has also shown people in all creative industries, including advertising, that the world needs their skills and gifts to solve real global problems.”

Ten-Year-Old CG Girl Used to Collect Identities of 1,000 Online Sex Predators From Chatrooms (6)“If catching them is so easy webcam child sex tourism can be stopped,” claimed Lemz in their promotional video. “What we need now is pro-active policing… If we can trace 1,000 men in two months, police forces can trace more than 100,000 in a year.”

Stop webcam child sex tourism! Lemz PR Campaign to Catch Online Webcam Child Sex Predators

By Heidi Woolf

What Happens When Your Driverless Car Chooses Whether to Save Your Life or Others’ Lives in an Accident? Survey Results

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Driverless cars are now legal in America, but what happens when your car has to decide whether to save your life or others’ in an accident? Recently, a survey was taken to find out what Americans thought should happen.

The survey, conducted by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) polled 196 participants. The survey asked, “Should your robot car sacrifice your life if it will save more lives?”

The decision was split. Around one third chose each of three options: Yes, the car should prioritize its drivers life; No, the car should be programmed to save the maximum number of lives; and that choice should be up to the owner of the car, who could pre-program the vehicle as he or she sees fit.

What Happens When Your Driverless Car Decides to Save Your Life or Others' Lives in an Accident Survey Results IEET
IEET Survey

Beyond the ethical choice, other factors have been raised as important to the question of what a car should do in such an emergency. Cars are considered to be not designed to protect the lives of anyone except those within the car, so some commenters have said that each car can protect its own occupants best.

Other questions surrounding the advent of automated cars include how the law would relate to such cars in accidents. Can automated cars be held criminally liable? Are computized ethics enough, when most people believe good judgment can compel people to act illegally? How can driverless cars be insured? What are the tests for competancy to drive on the road? Should separate roads be set aside for driverless cars? How will the decision to use driverless cars be made?

Chinka Mui, the author of New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups, has commented on some of these questions. “Insurance companies make money on their premiums, and over time they’ll be fighting over a smaller pool,” said Mui. “That will have a massive impact from a business-model standpoint, but it will also have an impact on hundreds of thousands of jobs for people sitting in claims centres, answering phones.”

What Happens When Your Driverless Car Decides to Save Your Life or Others' Lives in an Accident Survey Results (2)
States where driverless cars are legal

Currently, driverless cars are legal in five US States. Most recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed senate bill SB1298 into state law on May 22, providing for driverless cars on the states roads.

The legislation will allow driverless cars to be licenced in California beginning September.

But driverless cars may currently be legal anyway, since they are not yet legislated against. “Everything is permitted unless prohibited,” commented Stanford law fellow Bryant Walker Smith. Since there are no laws against driverless cars, Smith has argued, the tests of Google’s and others on America’s highways were most likely not illegal, and neither is any other driverless activity at the moment.


By Day Blakely Donaldson



Financial Post

Universal Typeless Blood Substitute Being Developed at University of Essex

A team of scientists at Essex University with a goal of providing an artificial blood substitute to hospitals and disaster areas around the world–and overcome the barriers that have stumped 25 years and $3 billion of global scientific and business investment–have made progress with a recent $2.5 million funding boon.Universal Type-less Blood Substitute Being Developed at University of Essex 2

Overcoming several of blood storage’s perpetual problems, the new blood is hoped to be stored at room temperature, last up to two years, and be available to all patients, regardless of blood type. Donated blood operations are also fraught with concerns about decreasing active donors worldwide and the challenges of distribution to locations where there is need, as well as purity and efficacy concerns.

The Heam02 project  is working on creating an artificial hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC). Hemoglobin is the key protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around our bodies. The protein is protected in the body by the red cell, and previous attempts to make HBOCs have failed because the artificial hemoglobins could not survive outside their protective natural environment.

Heam02’s HBOC is detoxified by the body’s own defenses. HaemO2 is engineering recombinant hemoglobin variants with enhanced electron transfer pathways, and the variants will be better able to detoxify the reactive high oxidation state iron and free radicals produced in extracellular haemoglobin under conditions of oxidative stress. 

Universal Type-less Blood Substitute Being Developed at University of Essex 3“It means we could overcome some of the inherent problems with transfusions as there would be no need for blood group typing and a longer shelf life means you are able to stockpile the supplies necessary for major disasters. It also offers the opportunity for routine transfusion support in ambulances or at remote inaccessible locations,” explained Essex’s Professor Chris Cooper, a biochemist and blood substitute expert.

Professor Cooper commented on the $2.5 Medical Research Council-funded Essex project, which was leaving US attempts by the wayside. “This is an exciting time for artificial blood research in Britain. This funding allows our team to take to first step on the road to bridging the gap between top class research and the commercialization of a product.”

By Andy Stern


University of Essex