Jeff Hawkins, inventor of PalmPilot (a smartphone predecessor) and co-founder of Numenta (2005), does not lack confidence. After an interview with him in connection with his new book, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (Basic Books 2021), Will Douglas Heaven tells us at MIT Review, “Neuroscientist and tech entrepreneur Jeff Hawkins claims he’s figured out how intelligence works—and he wants every AI lab in the world to know about it”:

He’s not the first Silicon Valley entrepreneur to think he has all the answers—and not everyone is likely to agree with his conclusions. But his ideas could shake up AI.

Will Douglas Heaven, ““We’ll never have true AI without first understanding the brain”” at MIT Technology Review (March 3, 2021)

Hawkins started out as an AI guy but took a PhD in neuroscience and, like many others, tries to apply some AI concepts to understanding human intelligence and vice-versa:

I look at the progress that has been made recently with deep learning and it’s dramatic, it’s pretty impressive—but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s fundamentally lacking. I think I know what intelligence is; I think I know how brains do it. And AI is not doing what brains do.

Will Douglas Heaven, ““We’ll never have true AI without first understanding the brain”” at MIT Technology Review (March 3, 2021)

His efforts at understanding and mimicking what human brains do have led him to a theory of intelligence. He focuses on the neocortex, the “mammalian” brain, which rendered mammals distinct from birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. The neocortex (columns pictured) has traditionally been assumed to be the seat of greater thinking abilities:

Collectively, the neocortex “learns a model” of the world, and continuously updates it. Hawkins says that there is no central control room in our brains. Instead, our perception is a consensus which the columns reach by voting. Within the columns – indeed, within the neurons – predictions are made, and depending how successful their predictions are, the neurons will vote for their version of events. The model which emerges is the result of their aggregate strength of those predictions …

Calum Chace, “A New Theory Of Intelligence: Review of “A Thousand Brains” by Jeff Hawkins” at Forbes

Hence his “thousand brains” concept, where each neuron has a vote. Hawkins thinks the neocortex relies heavily on copying and…

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