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Seeking inspiration from biology to evolve new computing model

Deepa Kurup


A working group of IT leaders will look into raising the bar of professionalism in the sector


BANGALORE: Delivering the first-ever Pinkerton lecture in India, Manchester University professor Stever Furber said that he seeks inspiration from biology to evolve computational solutions to issues — such as reliability and parallel computing — faced in hardware implementations.

Held at the Infosys campus here on Friday, the lecture was hosted by Institution of Engineering and Technology, a global network of engineers. Known best for being part of the team that designed the BBC Microcomputer and the 32-bit ARM, Prof. Furber spoke about his cutting-edge project: the SpinNaker, a computing system that mimics that neurological system of the human brain that can achieve substantial parallel processing by connecting thousands of ARM processors.

“Having been involved with chips for most of my career, I have turned to biology so that we can use our evolving understanding of how our brain functions to create a computational model that can parallel process efficiently,” Prof. Fuber explained.

He took the audience on a chronological journey of the evolution of the micro-chip, a field that he says is “now, waiting for a breakthrough”. In an interactive session, he fielded questions ranging from reconfigurable computing or asynchronous systems to the feasibility of the much-talked-about quantum computing.

Round-table meeting

The lecture was preceded by a closed-doors round-table meet, organised by the IET, where members of the IT industry met to discuss ‘professionalism and ethics” in the industry.

A working group has been created that will meet at least quarterly and deliberate on how to raise the bar and achieve a higher degree of professionalism in this globalised industry, said Subroto Bagchi, vice-chairman, MindTree.

Others present included Nigel Fine, Chief Executive of the IET, Infosys Technologies founder N. Narayana Murthy, director of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore Pankaj Chandra, Subendu Ghosh, Principal General Manager, BSNL, I. Vijaya Kumar, CTO, Wipro and Sheahan Varghese, director of the Law Associates.

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