A startup company tries to create an artificial brain
The eyes work with the brain to show it the world. A company called Vicarious believes that computers could learn to do the same and is developing software that tries to process visual information in the same way that the brain does.
Vicarious hopes to combine neuroscience and computer science to create a visual perception system inspired by the neocortex, the wrinkled outer part of the brain that deals with speech, hearing, sight and movement, among other functions.
The idea of a neural network - software that can simulate the way the brain works by making connections between artificial neurons - has been around for decades, but Vicarious claims to have perfected and improved upon earlier techniques.
Company co-founder Dileep George notes that others have tended to base their neural network software on the “neocognitron” model first proposed in 1980 (which in turn is based on a visual cortex model devised decades earlier). These systems are generally trained to recognize visual information using random static images, he adds.
Vicarious, George points out, is using a more sophisticated architecture and training his system with a video sequence that varies over time.
Vicarious hopes to have a vision system developed and possibly commercialized in the next few years. Co-founder D. Scott Phoenix believes it could have many applications: A computer could analyze diagnostic images to determine if a patient has cancer, or look at a plate of food and tell how many calories it contains.
Phoenix claims that Vicarious software, like the human brain, essentially learns by viewing a series of images and making connections in response to them. This means that it is smart enough to identify an object, even if there is a lack of information; You will recognize, for example, an arm, even if it is covered in paint or a wristwatch.
Vicarious has not released the details of its technology, but the company, created in 2010, has piqued the interest of some investors. Last month, in a Series A funding round, it raised $ 15 million from a group of investors that includes Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.
Source: Technology Review