On Intelligence is an attempt to provide a framework for how human brains work in order to help us one day build artificial intelligences. The book was co-written by Jeff Hawkins, the inventor of the Palm Pilot, who obviously knows a thing or two about how to make machines act smart.
The basic thesis is that the brain is very much not like a computer—that computers and brains are fundamentally different, and that it’s only by understanding how the brain really works that we’ll be able to synthesize something that acts like it. According to the book, the brain, at the most basic level, only does two things: it evaluates patterns, and it remembers patterns. All sensory input boils down to patterns over time.
This would explain how, when you sit down at your desk at work in the morning, you realize that something is wrong if somebody has moved your coffee cup. If asked before you entered the office, you probably couldn’t have said where, exactly, the coffee cup was, but as you decide to reach for the cup, your brain runs through the sequence of how reaching for the coffee cup “should” go, and once that fails, you realize that it’s been moved. Everything you do, your brain is running through a memory of how it “should” be, and you notice when the memory doesn’t coincide with reality.
This could also explain why new experiences are tiring—your brain is struggling to absorb the new patterns and mesh them with existing memories.
Without being a neuroscientist, it’s hard to disagree with Hawkins’s ideas. They make sense.
They also could usher in a very exciting era of truly smart machines.
For completeness, On Intelligence also includes a section on the ethics and risks involved in building these kinds of machines.
It’s a very interesting read.
Posted Wednesday, 10 October, 2007 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.