Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Building Brainlike Computers

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the cortexes-for-all dept.

Data Storage 251

newtronic clues us to an article in IEEE Spectrum by Jeff Hawkins (founder of Palm Computing), titled Why can't a computer be more like a brain? Hawkins brings us up to date with his latest endeavor, Numenta. He covers progress since his book On Intelligence and gives details on Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM), which is a platform for simulating neocortical activity. Programming HTMs is different — you essentially feed them sensory data. Numenta has created a framework and tools, free in a "research release," that allow anyone to build and program HTMs.

cancel ×

251 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Sad news...John Corzine dead at 60 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720205)

I just heard some sad new on Talk Radio, John Corzine corrupt billionaire governor of the Socialist state of New Jersey was found dead in his New Jersey automobile. There were no further details. Even if you were not a fan of this criminal sleazebag, there is no denying his contribution to the politics of waste and fraud. Truly an American Icon!

Re:Sad news...John Corzine dead at 60 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720885)

Wait...how can he be a socialist AND corrupt? Next time, THINK before you troll.

Re:Sad news...John Corzine dead at 60 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721791)

Exactly.
Socialist and corrupt are synonyms, so he was being redundant. How silly!

I built a brainlike computer, but it wasn't useful (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720233)

It spent most of the time watching TV all stoned. Too many receptors.

this is stupid (0, Troll)

corynthian_dude (1087973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720245)

to believe that man could create a brain is absurd. Only god could create a brain. Computer programmers seem to have a delusion that they can make something in the image of gods creation. You can make games, wordprocessors, email programs, no problem, those are easy, but to believe you can make something capable of understanding the world in all its god given glory is heresy.

Re:this is stupid (4, Funny)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720287)

Next you'll say that we're incapable of growing ears on rats right?

Re:this is stupid (-1, Flamebait)

corynthian_dude (1087973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720351)

why would I say that, we don't grow ears on rats. rats do that.

I'm just saying that the human brain is a thing made by god, and we can't copy it.

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720401)

Got any evidence of that, or are you just saying that it seems pretty darn amazing to you?

Re:this is stupid (1, Flamebait)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720417)

Nobody is trying to copy it. They're trying to design it to have all the benefits the human brain has that allow us to work on things like this, but remove all of the features that don't work. Basically, we're trying to design the brain that god would have designed if he existed and actually designed it. =)

Re:this is stupid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720503)

Ofcourse we don't grow ears on rats. We grow them on mice!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1949073.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:this is stupid (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720583)

I'm just saying that the human brain is a thing made by god, and we can't copy it.


How does that follow? Granting, for the sake of discussion, that everything in the natural universe, including brains, was created by God, that hardly implies that we can't copy brains. We can reproduce many naturally occurring things, after all, through understanding their structure and composition.

Diamonds are things made by God, and we can copy them.

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720983)

Thank you, this is the argument that needed to be made.

Re:this is stupid (0, Troll)

larryhappy (1088011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721075)


diamonds are part of the world, they aren't the same as man. The world was created to serve man, so it seems obvious that we would be able to imitate some aspects of it, but we can't make a human mind.

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721701)

Would you like it if they were not things made by god and we can copy them?

Re:this is stupid (2, Insightful)

hiroller (994761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720593)

Hasn't living in the digital age taught you anything? If it can be created, it can be copied. All we lack is the underlying mechanism on how to create it. I believe that we will in fact copy it. It might not be as effective as the natural brain but one day, we'll be able to create something as effective as our brains.

The question isn't "will we?", the question in reality be: "should we?" Do we have the right to dissect the creations of god and dupllicate them? Sure, I see no reason not to. There are certainly hazards (as most of famous sci-fi movies absolutely love to point out) but there are hazards to driving in the morning. Sure, one day we may be responsible for annihilation of all man-kind but hey, we had a good run ;)

But I think there are some good aspects to trying to replicate the brain. The best reason of all is for understanding of how we work. To duplicate something, you need to know how it works first (or at least know how in general). If we understand the brain, that could help us

  1. hopefully understand ourselves
  2. Build computers that have faster and simutaneous memory searches.

Oh and one last thing. Have you ever programmed an email program? They made be fun to design, if you're a hard-core coder but they're not easy.

Re:this is stupid (1)

mentrial (956547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720673)

Oh, that explains it then, god uses DRM!

Now, seriously, I want to believe that you are joking, but I don't have too much faith in people, so...

The thing is that we know how the brain works at a very low level, we could "copy" it in a couple of years, and with some new materials we could even do it in less space than that of an actual brain, but the question is if it would be practical to do so.
Computers circuits are made to do tasks. To be programed with pseudo logic, to do what we want, and in this their are more efficient than a real brain, which is made to do nothing specific and does mainly random things.

Re:this is stupid (2, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721171)

http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/moravec.htm [transhumanist.com]

Ok, according to moore's law we will get there, with a transistor based computer. I believe the idea is to create the hardware equivelant of a neuron. Something like Asimov's positronic brain. Currently the modern computer is little more than a highly programmable calculator. The idea in this case is to create a computer that can learn or repurpose it's transistors/neurons.

My colleagues and I have been pursuing that approach for several years. We've focused on the brain's neocortex, and we have made significant progress in understanding how it works. We call our theory, for reasons that I will explain shortly, Hierarchical Temporal Memory, or HTM. We have created a software platform that allows anyone to build HTMs for experimentation and deployment. You don't program an HTM as you would a computer; rather you configure it with software tools, then train it by exposing it to sensory data.

The end goal is to create more advanced computers or software. You'd do better venting your religious frustrations against scientists in the genetics industry where the end goal is more advance people or thoughts.

Re:this is stupid (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720469)

Next you'll say that we're incapable of growing ears on rats right?


Shhh! Nobody tell him they actually did it [pbs.org] !

The question is... (1)

Robot Randy (982296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720861)

If we can grow a human ear on a mouse, why can't we grow a human ear on a human?

Re:The question is... (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721267)

Personally, I won't be standing in line for a job as an ear farmer. I can't fathom the frustration of sitting on 30 ears or so, among other things. Maybe there should be a clause in my will that if I be come overly catatonic to use me for ear farming, but imagine the trauma if I woke up covered in ears. (eek)

Re:The question is... (1)

Robot Randy (982296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721427)

This may be an attemp at +1 Funny, or you misunderstand.

If a person is missing an ear (let's say they got into a fight with a certain former heavyweight champion.), why would the scientists need a mouse to grow the ear? Why not grow it on the Vincent Van Gogh wannabe?

Re:The question is... (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721721)

Actually, it really boils down to how much I could make as an ear farmer and what the risks were. I would assume they are grown on mice for one of two reasons.
a) mice are the scientists beta testers or
b) there is an inherint risk in the growth procedure that is deemed irresponsible to burden a human with.

Re:this is stupid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720383)

you must be lost. this is a science website.

Re:this is stupid (-1, Troll)

larryhappy (1088011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720959)

believing in Christ our lord does not exclude a person from being able to comment on the mistakes of science. The fact that you are unable to accept that only shows how ignorant you are. I happen to agree with him. It's fine to get computers to do simple tasks, or to do our bidding, but to believe that they could be brought up to our level is as silly as assigning human rights to insects. how can you possibly believe that anyone but god could create a brain? We can't even make a computer that's able to resist a simple computer virus, and you want to think one can be made that could equal our minds?

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721227)

"We can't even make a computer that's able to resist a simple computer virus"

Sorta like a human body (a creation of God) that can't even resist cancer?

Re:this is stupid (0)

larryhappy (1088011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721401)

cancer is a thing of nature. Mankind is slowly learning how to defend itself from such ills. That is our destiny as we move towards perfection. To assign the same abilities to computers is just plain wrong.

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720389)

You stupid wanker. Computer programmers are not the same as computer scientists. While I can't claim that AI is capable of understanding the world "in all its god given glory", to believe that we never could is pure creationist wank. Why don't you roll off your sister and get an education?

Re:this is stupid (0, Flamebait)

corynthian_dude (1087973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720451)

why would that make me stupid? It's a fact that god created man. Man cannot hope to understand god, so how can we create something equivalent to a thing he made?

Perhaps you could come up with a real argument instead of resorting to insults. I haven't insulted you. The fact that you are only able to be rude shows that you don't have anything substantial to add to the debate.

Re:this is stupid (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720601)

It's a fact that god created man.

Do not insult the Great Noodly One. He, the FSM, did not create man. rather, he opened a large box of CrackerJack and there inside was the prize, Man. At least that's one theory espoused by the Reverend Chef Boyardee. And no less credible than yours.

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721521)

"It's a fact that god created man."

How is that a fact? You can only say for certain it is an assumption nothing more.

"Man cannot hope to understand god, so how can we create something equivalent to a thing he made?"

Why is man incapable of understanding God if we are all a part of God. Know thyself!

Your defeatist statement regarding "knowing" God smacks of hard core religion telling you what you can and cannot do again. It is laughable for the same reason as you believe gathering in a building and listening to fiction from a multi author book somehow connects you to God? Go sit in a field in the middle of Spring or walk through a forest and feel the life teeming around you. That is where you can sit in the house of God, not in a moldy dank church performing pagan rituals.

Re:this is stupid (0, Flamebait)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720425)

So, your saying that just because its complex, it can't be done?
Think about that for a moment, if only "god" could make it, then he would be breaking his own laws of nature, physics, quantium physics, and such. This is because every child, quite literally, makes his own brain, through growth. When you are in the womb, your cells split and become specilized and eventually make a structure known as a brain.

We've proven that we can change a creature's basic DNA, to make it different than it was, to make it grow up to be something different, all we're doing is re-inventing a different kind of brain by using an existing example as a model.

So, before you go off and read your king james edition of the bible, assuming your one of those blind-eyed, deaf-eared christians from the bible belt (and ooh boy, if you ever did any "real" research on the history of that thing you would know why so many people are becoming atheists), try using that brain you built yourself.

Re:this is stupid (0, Flamebait)

corynthian_dude (1087973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720573)

I'm not saying that it can't be done because it's complex. It can't be done because the human mind was designed by god. We can't copy it in artificial form. We can only create new minds in the way god intended, by procreation. Why try fake means when god has already provided us with a perfect method?

We educate our children through providing proper guidance. That helps form their minds, or as yyou would have ity, 'build their brains'. That is part of the miracle of life. That's not the same sa making a computer act like a brain and pretending it's alive.

Messing about with dna is just science trying to destroy the perfection of life. They want to make money from a thing that should be inviolate.

Re:this is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721089)

Seeing as how god doesn't exist your tool-ass argument falls apart. tool.

Re:this is stupid (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720665)

This is because every child, quite literally, makes his own brain, through growth.

Can you really stand by this claim? I mean, do you believe you grew your own brain? If you said you grew that plant sitting in the pot on the shelf, I would believe you because you watered it regularly, etc. But when the cells started to divide in your mother's womb, where were you?

Re:this is stupid (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720711)

You did a very good job discrediting yourself with that last paragraph.

Re:this is stupid (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721205)

The paragraph in question:

"So, before you go off and read your king james edition of the bible, assuming your one of those blind-eyed, deaf-eared christians from the bible belt (and ooh boy, if you ever did any "real" research on the history of that thing you would know why so many people are becoming atheists), try using that brain you built yourself."

What do you object to? His bigotry?

A bigot can still have a point. If you research the history of the bible even just casually you discover that basically no part of it has managed to survive without being mangled.

And of course there's the issue that there are no reputable and reliable references for the existence of Jesus, who created quite a stir during his brief life.

Not to mention how heavily expurgated the bible is; for example large fragments of the gospel according to Mary Magdalene were uncovered. When are those going to be inserted into the bible?

Even if you accept that the most significant events in the bible were real, you have to agree that the bible is at this point a horribly unreliable source.

Mod parent UP! (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720535)

Seriously! This is one of the funniest posts I've read all day!

Whooboy, "It's heresy!" That's a good one!

Re:Mod parent UP! (2, Insightful)

cyborg_zx (893396) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720687)

Some people are absolutely terrified by the fact that they are not special at all in the grand scheme of things.

Re:this is stupid (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720833)

And so another God of the gaps [wikipedia.org] philosopher strikes...
 

Re:this is stupid (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721091)

It's true that many computer programmers have delusions about what the things their craft can make possible. Hell, just look at the scheduling problems on just about any development project. Arguably, all programmers are delusional about their ability.

However, you weaken your own point by bringing up "heresy". You're not going to sway anybody that way. Nobody gives a crap about heresy. A heretic belief is one that that goes against the beliefs of some (religious) authority. Big deal. Those authorities are all human. By fancying themselves authorities, they are being just as vain as the people they condemn for not following them.

I'm not going to touch the "god" thing because that word is a homynym with several intended meanings depending on the speaker. You could have simply proposed that it's impossible to encode the process of life. That's what it comes down to. The living moment is just plain ungraspable in words or any other sort of code. That includes the function of a human brain.

It's not that the brain is "too complex". It's that it's just way too simple. As soon as you speak about any kind of code, language or programming you're already way more complex than a brain is, and there's no way to work backward from that. I believe this, and I'm sure most people on Slashdot don't, but it's a better argument than yours. No need to bring your personal religious inclinations into it.

Actually, computer brains will be far superior (4, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721181)

I know that you're merely trolling and don't actually believe what you say. Nevertheless ...

It's worth stating that unless you believe that the human brain contains magic (which 99% of your religious bretheren don't), then it is no more than a very complex arrangement of perfectly ordinary physical components, namely atoms and molecules. And if you don't think that we will in due course be able to arrange atoms and molecules as we wish, then you're very blinkered to the direction in which science and engineering are heading.

That said, the recreation of human brains is merely an interesting challange as far as practical engineers are concerned, and not a practical approach. The vast majority of us have no intention of actually taking that route because protein is such an inferior building material. Your alleged god (aka. blind evolution) only "chose" it because carbon is so damn versatile in conjunction with O and N and H, so a million different reactions occurred in the mess of the primordial soup. And one of them happened to work.

Well we don't rely on blind chance, but coerce the reactions in the direction we want, which gives us the chance to choose our materials more strategically. And we will.

There's not a chance in hell (trying to use your frame of reference here) of us producing "brains" that are *MERELY* as good as nature created in humans, because the equations that underpin ordinary physics and chemistry (and therefore molecular nanotechnology) say otherwise. Instead, you can expect "brains" a billion times our mental capacity and a trillion times our mental speed in due course. We know that it's possible (from theory, and by observing protein nanomachines doing it very poorly), but we lack the infrastructure to do it ourselves at present. It's many decades away, but hey, we're working on it. :-)

You'd have to contradict the maths and physics of materials and biotech that says that MNT is possible before you can validly say that it's not. And with the intellectual depth of your contribution above, my guess is that you won't. :-)

End of civilization (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720251)

Because it would signal the end of civilization...if computers can look like women (porn), feel like women (Realdolls), and think like women (have a brain, at least in some cases), then all procreation would cease and humans would suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs.

Re:End of civilization (1)

Necreia (954727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720403)

As much as I'd mark this as funny... it's too true not to be insightful.

Re:End of civilization (4, Funny)

morari (1080535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720475)

Mystery solved! Dinosaurs went extinct because they developed super-sexy "DinoBots" and thus became disinterested in actual sex...

Re:End of civilization (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720925)

Mystery solved! Dinosaurs went extinct because they developed super-sexy "DinoBots" and thus became disinterested in actual sex...

I don't know how to break this too you gently so I'll just be blunt. If you're someone who is capable of developing super-sexy bots then it doesn't really matter whether you're interested in actual sex or not.

Re:End of civilization (1)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721441)

I don't understand what you're getting at. Please explain.

Re:End of civilization (4, Funny)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720525)

Careful . . . I don't think you want your super sexy real doll to think like an actual woman.

That is, unless you want your old doll to get jealous of the new one and steal half your money and burn your house down.

Re:End of civilization (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720605)

1. Design a computer that thinks "like a woman"
2. Have computer lock itself in the bathroom, crying.
3. ???
4. End of civilization?

Re:End of civilization (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720675)

think like women
That's the one thing we don't want a female android to do.

How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721113)

The fact is, women who act like actual people will have no problem getting ogled.

The snivelling harpies who bought into the, "We can do everything! We're women! We're better than men!" crap (you know the type - the ones who think they're princesses and that the world revolves solely around them) will be cast aside in favor of our animitronic boob-laden overlords.

Of course, this will see a good number of male genetics, ahem, dripping onto the ground instead of continuing as well. But in the end, we'll be left with sane women and men who can simply roll their eyes and somehow not manage to become infuriated over stupid arguments about whether the toilet seat should be left up or down.

I, for one, welcome the coming superhumans.

Re:End of civilization (1)

Seiruu (808321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721217)

I have a question: Should we really one day be able to create computers/machines this good that it could replace us as a race entirely, would that make us the smartest or the stupidest creature ever to have come out of the evolution theory?

Re:End of civilization (1)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721523)

Neither. It would simply make us extinct.

Re:End of civilization (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721549)

You got metal fever boy, metal fever!

DON'T DATE ROBOTS!

Re:End of civilization (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721651)

Eh... Actually, we (guys) would end up having more sex with real chicks, not less, because they would become afraid of the competition. When the demand becomes saturated by computerized dolls, women will go to extraordinary lengths to get laid by a real dude. --a real dude

been there, done that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720253)

It's all been done before, perceptrons, multi-layered perceptrons, recurrent connections, etc, etc, etc...dunno why anybody would pay attention

Re:been there, done that... (2, Interesting)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720431)

It's all been done before, perceptrons, multi-layered perceptrons, recurrent connections, etc, etc, etc...dunno why anybody would pay attention
Well, yes and no. I think both you and the Numenta people are wrong about this (them saying that the failing of AI is that it ignores the brain). Here is my brief take on the history of AI and machine learning:

First, AI ignored the brain. Then, Neural Networks took off in the 80's, and during the 90's were also the 'hot thing' in AI and machine learning. Basically, by using some 'brain-like' considerations, flexible learning systems could be built. These include perceptrons, etc. However, since then, neural networks have basically been made obsolete. Both from a theoretical and a practical standpoint, methods like support vector machines and boosting are far better than neural networks; these are the current state of the art. And they return us to the 'old AI' approach of ignoring the brain, in that they are NOT 'brain-like' in any significant way. Rather, they are natural algorithms that arise once you have a mature theory of machine learning (which, one might argue, science now has, with VC theory and later developments).

I tried to read the Numenta stuff, but really I fail to see the 'point' in it. Basically all I want is to see that their methods outperform support vector machines - show me that, and I will be an instant convert. Until then, I remain skeptical.

Re:been there, done that... (1)

BadMuN (1069580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720869)

Actually Kripkenstein, support vector machines with a Gaussian kernel are equivalent to a neural network with one hidden layer (with fixed connections to the inputs) and an infinite number of neurons, in the case where each neuron is a radial basis function (a simple exponential distance measure). Thus, you could arguably draw a parallel between the SVM and a certain approximation of 'brain-like' activity involving billions and billions of neurons. Although you're right to observe that neural networks have become largely obsolete, I think the direction of advancements in machine learning has perhaps not veered as far from brain-like computations as it might seem.

Re:been there, done that... (1)

russellh (547685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721439)

Here is my brief take on the history of AI and machine learning: First, AI ignored the brain. Then, Neural Networks took off in the 80's, and during the 90's were also the 'hot thing' in AI and machine learning. Basically, by using some 'brain-like' considerations, flexible learning systems could be built. These include perceptrons, etc. However, since then, neural networks have basically been made obsolete. Both from a theoretical and a practical standpoint, methods like support vector machines and boosting are far better than neural networks; these are the current state of the art. And they return us to the 'old AI' approach of ignoring the brain, in that they are NOT 'brain-like' in any significant way. Rather, they are natural algorithms that arise once you have a mature theory of machine learning (which, one might argue, science now has, with VC theory and later developments).
Here's my take on it: intelligence is vastly overrated. Look at what is achieved in nature without "intelligence" : natural systems are robust, durable, adaptable and complex in ways that human artifacts cannot remotely approach. It is on that "platform" that our intelligence rests. We don't even have a distant approximation. I doubt it can be short circuited, because I think we underestimate the interconnectedness of life. AI in the abstract is interesting, and these minor developments along the way are useful. But we need those other features first, I think. Far more useful than "intelligence".

I have a beowulf cluster of these things... (1, Redundant)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720255)

...but it's all in my head!

MODERATOR ABUSE!!! MODERATOR ABUSE!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721747)

The above comment has been modded Redundant. As of right now, there are no other comments on this discussion about Beowulf Clusters. Not one.

How long before... (4, Funny)

alberion (1086629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720345)

...comps get lazy and start reading /. instead of working?

Re:How long before... (1)

BrandonReese (1055794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721585)

Mine already does. I'll be sitting here coding my heart out and all of the sudden /. appears. I have no idea how it happens. I just go with the flow.

Re:How long before... (1)

Cctoide (923843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721635)

I don't think spammers want thinking, feeling, talking bots either.

Oh, wait, I think I see what you mean now.

If I were just a brain in a box, I'd be mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720363)

Especially since the mad scientist involved didn't bother putting in a female brain for companionship.

YOU HEAR THAT, GOD? I WANT AN ATTRACTIVE SET OF BITS SENT INTO MY LITTLE UNIVERSE RIGHT NOW.

Oh, and fix the Middle East. Thanks.

Interesting, but... (5, Informative)

Bob Hearn (61879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720379)

Hawkins' book On Intelligence is interesting reading. There are a lot of good ideas in there. From my perspective as an AI / neuroscience researcher, the main weakness in his approach is that he only thinks about the cortex, whereas many other brain structures, notably the basal ganglia, are increasingly becoming implicated as having a fundamental role in intelligence.

This quote from the article is telling:

HTM is not a model of a full brain or even the entire neo-cortex. Our system doesn't have desires, motives, or intentions of any kind. Indeed, we do not even want to make machines that are humanlike. Rather, we want to exploit a mechanism that we believe to underlie much of human thought and perception. This operating principle can be applied to many problems of pattern recognition, pattern discovery, prediction and, ultimately, robotics. But striving to build machines that pass the Turing Test is not our mission.
Well, my goal is to build machines that pass the Turing Test, so I have to think about more than cortex. But more generally, one might wonder how much of intelligence it is possible to capture with a system that "doesn't have desires, motives, or intentions of any kind".

Re:Interesting, but... (4, Interesting)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720561)

He means it doesn't have desires and motives in a conventional sense. The way it works mathamatically means that it seeks the lowest value (or highest, depending on the AI) for the next nodal jump, and finds a path that leads to the most likely solution.

This could be "converted" to traditional desires, meaning that if you taught it to find the most attractive woman, and gave it ranked values based on body features and what features are considered attractive in conjunction, it would "have" the "desire" to find the most beautiful woman in any given group.

I'd say that researchers need to learn to put things into layman's terms, but all we need are good editors to put it into simpler terms, really.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720591)

What do you think of his claim that the neocortex is built out of completely identical modules, which just end up getting programmed differently for their different functions? I'm not a neuroscientist, and reading the book, I found it difficult to judge how reliable a lot of his claims were, because he often failed to say what the evidence was. I also wasn't always sure which statements were controversial, which were his idiosyncratic ideas, etc.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

Bob Hearn (61879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720713)

Like a lot of neuroscience, that can be argued either way at present. Clearly there are some differences between the cortical regions, some of which are genetically determined, and others of which might arise through experience. Primary visual cortex, for example, is highly specialized. Anterior (frontal) cortex integrally involves basal ganglia for its function; posterior cortex does so only indirectly. But does all of cortex do essentially the same thing? We'd all love to know the answer to that one. A lot of people would say yes.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720611)

I guess what you're asking is how much learning can a system achieve if it has no motivation. That's what you're left with if you don't put in "desires, motives or intentions...".

It makes me think of fetuses. Isn't there learning before birth. I remember videos of fetuses sucking their thumbs and reacting to the light from the fiber optic camera. Clearly they have sensation, sucking their own thumb, and curiosity, reacting to outside stimulus. Is that what is missing?

I don't know. I'm not in the field...just curious. :)

Re:Interesting, but... (3, Informative)

Bob Hearn (61879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720831)

Yes, that's a big part of it. The basal ganliga form a giant reinforcement-learning system in the brain. Cortex on its own can perhaps learn to build hierarchical representations of sensory data, as Hawkins argues. But it can't learn how to perform actions that achieve goals without the basal ganglia. And in fact, there is a lot of evidence that suggests that sensory representation are refined and developed based on what is relevant to the brain's behavioal goals -- that the cortico-basal-ganglia loop contributes to sensory representation as well as motor, planning, intention, etc.

Off-Topic (3, Funny)

oringo (848629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720619)

Please take your professional/scientific reviews to real scientific journals. Only bitter/ignorant jokes are acceptable on /.

Re:Interesting, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720767)

"doesn't have desires, motives, or intentions of any kind"

. . .It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with.
It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear-
and it absolutely will not stop, ever. . .

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721437)

From my perspective as an AI / neuroscience researcher, the main weakness in his approach is that he only thinks about the cortex...

No disrespect, but don't you see the fact that none of you can all agree on anything (within this domain) as a bad sign? You're all bright individuals. But it's very similar to the fact that philosophers don't uniformly agree on any philsophical viewpoint. That's because there's nothing concrete that can be said in that domain, as has already been understood for centuries by Zen masters. Or the fact that the profileration of self-help books proves that none of them work.

I mean, I'm sure every AI researcher believes that the A* search is a practical way to arrive at a solution to a certain class of problems. But that won't help you pass the Turing test.

Does it ever occur to you that the brain you study was not manufactured based on any model or draft? If there were, it would be a lot easier to extract that model and agree on it. I don't think "we're not there yet" cuts the mustard. Look at physics. Geniuses have been refining that model for centuries. And where did they end up? Quantum physics, which almost flat out tells them "you'll never know anything more" right within its own theories.

Designed for different tasks (1)

flyboyfred (987568) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720399)

Perhaps because we invented computers to do what our brains aren't as good at -- namely, arithmetic and automating dull, repetitive tasks. If computers worked the way brains do, they'd get bored with doing their job and find something else to do.

Re:Designed for different tasks (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720499)

Or maybe this almost-human brain could be directly hooked to a numeric processor and have the best of both worlds.

It's time for that 'overlords' quote, I think.

Re:Designed for different tasks (1)

Andyman1134 (854184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720603)

I for one welcome our coming cyborg overlords!

Re:Designed for different tasks (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720881)

Well, making computers do what are brains are good at is the first step to making computers that do everything better than us. Whether that is a good idea or not is outside the scope of this post.

End of civilization??? (1)

vasanth (908280) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720421)

I see quite a few comments on how the development of such technology is a threat to the human civilization, but on the contrary it can mean that "humanness" or what makes us humans (the way we think etc) can be propagated in the form of machines through the universe even after the end of our planet.. I don't think I will be less human if my mind/thought process were moved to an artificial system (say a robot) from my natural one, may be this is the next step in evolution, evolving away from flesh and bones...

Re:End of civilization??? (1)

hiroller (994761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720823)

Not really sure that transplanting our brains into machines could really be considered "evolution." Evolution, any way you slice it, is a gradual change. Becoming a Cyberman [bbc.co.uk] sounds pretty sudden

;)

Re:End of civilization??? (1)

joshier (957448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720911)

We were created through the natural process of evolution, evolution has given us efficient brains, but it didn't give us a guide to creating AI machines in which we may or may not live in.

It's still, very early and right now it's impossible for this to happen.. even inhabiting another planet is very hard because we are formed through the natural environment. I don't think it would be wise to break away from that, not just wise but quite literally illogical.
We should keep to the natural enviroment in which we were formed, for if it weren't for that, we wouldn't been have able to even think about this (we wouldn't be alive)

We shouldn't try and create new rules in this universe, as it is impossible and illogical, but we should follow them and adapt ourselves around them.

Re:End of civilization??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721629)

That's, in part, the point of AI. It abstracts the useful parts of the human mind from the body, and even from those features and limitations of the mind that only exist because of the particular bodies we have. Integrate an AI with the right kind of body and almost any environment can be "natural" to it, if only we can predict that body's behavior well enough in the design phase. (Which is the same problem we'd have trying to adapt ourselves to other planets, but it's probably easier without an existing design to have to fit our adaptations into.)

Besides, one of the "rules" of the universe is that humans are known to change the rules. Does your average city dweller think, behave, or make his living anything like a caveman in a state of "nature" would? Would all of his strengths been useful and all his weaknesses harmful to that caveman? Going cyborg seems to be a more drastic change of lifestyle than going urban or industrial was, but only because we can't get past the abruptness of the physical modifications that would involve. As far as our civilization goes it would be nothing more than the latest flavor of a trend that's as old as agriculture.

Mac and Linux only! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18720427)

Awesome,
at least someone realizes that things can be computed on a platform other than Windows.

Plus, you don't have to worry that your brain will be busy sending out spams while it's training.

Can't build what you don't understand (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720471)

Since they (scientists) don't really have a full understanding about how the brain works then it seems to me that building a computer to work like one is a litle far fetched.

Alchemy (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720853)

Medievals didn't understand the atom or crystalline structures, but they still made carbonized steel for armour. They had the wrong ideas about exactly how metal became properly carbonized and tempered, but they still came up with correctly tempered spring-like steels (IIRC similar to tempered 1050) without getting any of the "why" of it right.

I think someday we will be viewed as the medievals of AI. We occasionally make progress even though we really don't know what we're doing. Yet.

Re:Can't build what you don't understand (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720941)

Richard Feynman's term "cargo cult science [wikipedia.org] " comes to mind.

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like
runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's
the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're
doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land.


Not that brain researchers are literally just making gray globs out of Play-Doh, but that doesn't rule out similar errors at a deeper level.

a "full understanding" isn't necessary (4, Insightful)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721163)

Hawkin's isn't trying to build a computer that works like a brain, anymore than the Wright brothers tried to build a plane that flew like a bird. They didn't need to "fully understand" how birds fly to get off the ground. All they needed was enough understanding to take what they could use -- wings, for instance -- and adapt it to an approach that didn't require feathers, hollow bones, and so on.

Hawkins and the people he's working with have come up with an approach that lets people explore possible uses of allowing a machine to learn in a way that's inspired by a process that may be part of how humans learn. They don't need a "full understanding" of how the human brain works to do that.

Old News (0)

DarkLegacy (1027316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720479)

My computer has been learning things on it's own for years now.

Look, it's even put Slashdot as my home page! Isn't that nice. :P

Recognition Is a Small Part of the Problem (2, Interesting)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720537)

Because of the neocortex's uniform structure, neuro-scientists have long suspected that all its parts work on a common algorithm-that is, that the brain hears, sees, understands language, and even plays chess with a single, flexible tool. Much experimental evidence supports the idea that the neocortex is such a general-purpose learning machine. What it learns and what it can do are determined by the size of the neocortical sheet, what senses the sheet is connected to, and what experiences it is trained on. HTM is a theory of the neocortical algorithm.

While I believe that the HTM is indeed a giant leap in AI (although I disagree with Numenta's Bayesian approach), I cannot help thinking that Hawkins is only addressing a small subset of intelligence. The neocortex is essentially a recognition machine but there is a lot more to brain and behavior than recognition. What is Hawkins' take on things like behavior selection, short and long-term memory, motor sequencing, motor coordination, attention, motivation, etc...?

Re:Recognition Is a Small Part of the Problem (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721765)

A giant leap in AI? I seriously doubt it, until given evidence to the contrary. But anyhow, lets consider TFA itself. Here is one example, from the quote you give from TFA:

Much experimental evidence supports the idea that the neocortex is such a general-purpose learning machine.

Actually just as much evidence contradicts that hypothesis. We have very specific brain areas for generating and processing verbal data (Broca and Wernicke's areas), and a very specific brain area for recognizing faces. There are very good reasons to think that the brain actually has multiple highly-specialized systems. Bottom line - neuroscience doesn't know the answer to these questions. We really know remarkably little about the brain, amazingly little, and I say that as someone familiar with the field.

airplanes with feathers and flapping wings? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720617)

Immitation doesnt result in the best engineering, even though Nature has invented amazing things.

Re:airplanes with feathers and flapping wings? (2, Informative)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720667)

Still based on birds though.

early jumpbo jets used the landings of pigeons as a basis for example - those techniques are still used

But if.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720835)

We build brain-like computers. Are we then possible to make Insane computers? sociopath computers? or homocidal computers?

Re:But if.... (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18720987)

I'm sorry, Lumpy, but I cannot allow you to think like that.

Absolutely (1)

hypermanng (155858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721661)

It's certainly possible. We make child soldiers and all sorts of things. I sure if we're brutal enough, we can make anything pretty psychotic.

The key thing is that is a complete working system we're not "making" it anything in the sense we make a desktop computer do something. If we were, it wouldn't really be brain-like. Instead, we're causing something brain-like to have proto-experiences. When the hardware (and low-level software) gets to be far more brain-like, to the point where from a logical topology standpoint it's difficult to tell the two apart, one can expect that these computers will be people like the rest of us, and subject to many of the same weaknesses. We'll know we've succeeded when we make a computer that's bad at math.

Re:But if.... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721755)

Vista Autistic Edition.

Because human brains can give wrong answers... (2, Insightful)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721357)

We expect computers to give the exact same solution or answer when their program is executed once, twice, ten times, or a million times. Humans however make mistakes, our biological brains are better at pattern recognition and face recognition... But our logic is fuzzy... sometimes we will give a wrong answer or make a mistake on a simple calculation. So perhaps the ultimate goal is not to build a computer that thinks like a human, but rather apply (perfect) computer technology where it is appropriate and apply (imperfect) human thinking where it is needed. Actually the notion of the Mechanical Turk (article on slashdot a few weeks ago)... this is the future of Artificial Intelligence...

Why do you think that people are going bonkers over the offshore outsourcing trend? It's like Artificial Intelligence... You ask a question over the phone, or via chat window, and your question is magically answered by the thinking thing inside the box. It doesn't matter what the thing is on the other end of the line... all that matters is that it gives you a reasonably good answer that helps you make progress in your business or personal life.

We already have seen the face of Artificial Intelligence... it is staring back at us in the mirror.

Dog (1)

BrandonReese (1055794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721449)

I played with the picture recognition software and if you just make a dot and click add noise like 20 times it thinks it's a dog. I did that 4 or 5 times in a row with the same result.

A question arises though: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18721467)

If you fed a zombie a brainlike computer, would he be satisfied? or would you instead have to invent a robot zombie to consume said computer?

Eliza: (1)

cain (14472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18721757)

Why do you mention computers?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>