A Thousands Brain theory, book review

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A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence : Hawkins, Jeff: Amazon.se: Böcker

This is a new book, written by one of the people behind Palm Pilot, who is both an engineer and a neuroscientist. The book proposes a theory on how to describe neocortex and its functions.

Why is neocortex so important, one may ask. It holds our intelligence and our consciousness. Some would say that it is the place which defines us as humans, which allows us to be aware and intelligent.

The interesting part of this book is the fact that it attempts to provide guidelines on the future of machine intelligence and machine learning. It shows different paths to achieve AGI (Artificial General Intelligence): either as developing a lot of specialized models and winding them together, or as making one large model for everything.

These two approaches are already present in the modern AI community. The latter one (large model for everything) can be seen in the work of OpenAI and GPT-3. The scientists behind that model train it on large corpora of text, hoping that it can understand our natural language and execute our commands. Well, for now it is mostly about creating programs.

The first approach is generally the original idea of AI and ML. The original idea is about training models for specific tasks, such as image recognition, classification, text translation. This is where most of the current research lies and where we have observed the latest breakthroughs – AlphaGo, AlphaStar.

However, the thesis in the book is that the approach of one large model is more natural, similar to how our brain works. The theory of how neocortex stores, frames and recalls information is the core of what we need to achieve in order to make it work in practice.

Well, there is more to the book than I can write in a blog post, so I strongly recommend to read it and reflect on how we use ML and AI today. I’m going to try few of these ideas in 2022!

Author: Miroslaw Staron

I’m professor in Software Engineering at IT faculty. I usually blog about interesting articles (for me) and my own reflections on the development of Software Engineering, AI, computer science and automotive software.