IBM has built the biggest artificial brain ever, a cell-by-cell simulation of the human visual cortex: 1.6 billion virtual neurons connected by 9 trillion synapses. Dharmendra Modha has called this supercomputer, "The Hubble Telescope of the mind, a linear accelerator of the brain...Imagine peppering the entire surface of the ocean with pressure, temperature, humidity, wave height and turbidity sensors," Modha says. "Imagine streaming this data to a reverse-engineered cortex." In short, he envisions wiring the entire planet—transforming it into a virtual organism with the capacity to understand its own evolving patterns of weather, climate and ocean currents.
Modha's ultimate goal is simulating the entire human cortex, about 25 billion neurons, at full speed. To do that, he'll need to find 1000 times more computing power. It is estimated that the technology to do so will be exist in about 2019.