In the journal Science, IBM researchers report on a new computer chip that mimics the way the human brain recognizes patterns by leveraging an architecture they describe as "1 million programmable spiking neurons and 256 million configurable synapses."
From John Markoff's story in the New York Times:
The (TrueNorth) chip's electronic "neurons" are able to signal others when a type of data — light, for example — passes a certain threshold. Working in parallel, the neurons begin to organize the data into patterns suggesting the light is growing brighter, or changing color or shape.
The processor may thus be able to recognize that a woman in a video is picking up a purse, or control a robot that is reaching into a pocket and pulling out a quarter. Humans are able to recognize these acts without conscious thought, yet today's computers and robots struggle to interpret them.