'Artificial brain' moves closer to reality

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For a cursory moment, Japanese researchers may have built a part of an "artificial brain," according to Discovery.com. They turned human embryonic stem cells—stem cells derived from an the embryo of an egg fertilized in a lab—into a three-dimensional structure like the cerebellum, the part of the human brain responsible for motor control and receiving sensory information.

The structure, which was only temporary, was a step toward constructing something that has scientists worldwide on their toes, trying to put together a design that can perform tasks similar to the human brain, using a combination of living tissue, silicon circuits and computer algorithms, Discovery reported.

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This project does not exist in singularity. In La Jolla, California, a small start-up company is building software that would allow for "training" a robot to perform certain tasks like emptying the dishwasher, folding clothes, or picking strawberries, rather than substituting humans at the workplace.

A more extensive $1.2 billion "Human Brain Project" is being undertaken by the European Union to simulate and map the human brain, develop brain-inspired computer technologies and explore human brain diseases, Discovery reported.

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Other roboticists are trying to develop more complex software to train robots to talk, sort objects or play music, according to Discovery.

Nevertheless, some loopholes can be seen in these breakthroughs when it comes to recognizing human speech or facial cues. At IBM, a team is developing a computer chip called "True North" that mimics the way brains recognize patterns, using webs of transistors similar to the brain's neural networks.

This project was announced last November in the journal Science and uses very little energy, Discovery reported.

Read the full Discovery.com piece here.