For years, scientists and programmers have tried to make software work the way the human brain does, with an ability to learn and to quickly adapt to changing circumstances (at least in some cases). IBM says a new type of chip emerging out of a collaboration with Cornell University and iniLabs will mimic the brain's abilities for perception and cognition. The technology theoretically could be harnessed by banks for the types of analytics projects for which they use high-performance computing today: evaluating risk, predicting defaults, pricing complex products, determining creditworthiness, making quick decisions about pricing and products.

Most computers are designed for sequential processing according to a pre-defined program. The human brain, IBM notes, operates comparatively slowly and at low precision but excels at tasks such as recognizing, interpreting, and acting upon patterns, while consuming the same amount of power as a 20 watt light bulb and occupying the volume of a two-liter bottle.

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