Jeff Hawkins Explores a New Theory of Cortical Function (BS 139)

Jeff Hawkins Explores a New Theory of Cortical Function (BS 139)

Jeff Hawkins, author of the bestseller On Intelligence tells us about his latest research into how the neocortex produces intelligence. He proposes an exciting new model that could change the way we imagine cortical function.

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Embodied Cognition with Lawrence Shapiro (BSP 73)

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Lawrence Shapiro

In his new book, Embodied Cognition, Dr. Lawrence Shapiro provides a balanced introduction to embodied cognition's attempts to challenge standard cognitive science.  His interview in Episode 73 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of a few of his book's key ideas. It also continues our ongoing exploration of the role of embodiment. 

 

 

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Related Episodes:

  • BSP 25: Embodied Artificial Intelligence with Dr. Rolf Pfeifer.
  • BSP 36: Introduction to Embodied Cognition with Dr. Art Glenberg.
  • BSP 58: "Extended Mind" with philosopher Alva Noë.
  • BSP 66: Computational cognitive science with Dr. Randy Gallistel.

Some scientists mentioned in this episode:

References:

Annoucements:

Send feed back to Dr. Campbell at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com

Review: "Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?" (BSP 53)

 Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?

Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will, by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown.  This book challenges the widespread fear that neuroscience is revealing an explanation of the human mind that concludes that moral responsibility and free will are illusions created by our brains.

Instead, the authors argue that the problem is the assumption that a physicalistic/materialistic model of the mind must also be reductionist (a viewpoint that all causes are bottom-up).  In this podcast I discuss their arguments against causal reductionism and for a dynamic systems model.  We also discuss why we need to avoid brain-body dualism and recognize that our mind is more than just what our brain does. The key to preserving our intuitive sense of our selves as free agents capable of reason, moral responsibility, and free will is that the dynamic systems approach allows top-down causation, without resorting to any supernatural causes or breaking any of the know laws of the physical universe.  This is a complex topic, but I present a concise overview of the book's key ideas.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Additional Show Notes

References:

  • Books and Ideas #12 ("The Myth of Free Will")
  • Alice Juarrero, Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System.
  • Terence Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain.
  • Terrence Deacon, "Three Levels of Emergent PHenomena," in Nancy Murphy and William R. Stoeger (eds.) Evolution, and Emergence: Systems, Organisms, Persons (OUP 2007) ch 4.
  • Alwyn Scott, "The Development of Nonlinear Science", Revista del Nuovo Cimento, 27/10-11 (2004) 1-115.
  • Roger W. Sperry, "Psychology's Mentalist Paradigm and the Religion/Science Tension," American Psychologist, 43/8 (1988), 607-13.
  • Donald T. Campbell, "'Downward Causation' in Hierarchically Organized Biological Systems." in F. J. Ayala and T. Dobzhansky (eds.) Studies in the Philosophy of Biology 179-186.
  • Steven Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
  • Robert Van Gulick, "Who's in Charge Here? And Whose Doing All the Work?"In Heil and Mele (eds.) Mental Causation, 233-56.
  • George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought.
  • Ludwig Wiggenstein, Philosophical Investigations.

Other scientists mentioned in the episode:

  • Antonio Damasio: Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.
  • Arthur Glenberg: interviewed in Episode 36.
  • Rolf Pfeifer: interviewed in Episode 25.
  • Leslie Brothers, Friday's Footprint: How Society Shapes the Human Mind.
  • Raymond Gibbs, Embodiment and Cognitive Science.
  • Andy Clark, Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again.
  • Gerald M.Edelmanand Guilo Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination.

Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

Send email feedback to Ginger Campbell, MD at brainsciencepodcast@gmail.com

Interview with Jeff Hawkins "On Intelligence" (BSP 38)

Jeff Hawkins

Episode 38 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with Jeff Hawkins, author of On Intelligence.  Hawkins is well-known for founding Palm Computing and Handspring.  He invented the Grafitti handwriting recognition system and helped develop the Palm Trio SmartPhone.  Since he published his bestseller On Intelligence, he has devoted his work to his passion for neuroscience.  His current company, Numenta, is developing software that models the hierarchical structure of the neocortex.  In this interview we talk about the ideas in Hawkins book and how he is applying them to develop a computer model of cortical function.  This is a follow-up to Episode 2, which first aired in December of 2006.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Links and References:

Vernon Montcastle: pioneer who proposed that all parts of the brain's cortex work the same way.

  • Vernon Mountcastle (1978), "An Organizing Principle for Cerebral Function: The Unit Model and the Distributed System", The Mindful Brain (Gerald M. Edelman and Vernon B. Mountcastle, eds.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Please let me know if you find this paper on-line!)

Redwood Institute for Theoretical Neuroscience (UC-Berkeley) founded by Jeff Hawkins.

Numenta: company website includes extensive educational information about hierarchical temporal memory system (HTM).  The company's focus is practical implementation of HTM Theory.

Donations and Subscriptions are appreciated

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"Brains Matter" Podcast Has an Excellent Interview About the Philosophical Implications of Robotics

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Brains Matter is a podcast about science from Australia.  It was one of the shows on my ill-fated Podango™ Science channel, and it is now one of the charter members of SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG.  Unfortunately, I don't have a chance to listen to it on a regular basis, but I want to recommend the most recent episode, which is a discussion of robotics in history and in fiction.  The guest is Adam Parker, who is studying for a PhD in Robotics in Australia.  He has a surprising knowledge of the history of the field and brings that perspective to the conversation . I think that that is one of the things that makes the interview interesting.  This is not a technical conversation, but one that everyone can enjoy.  As I said on Digg™, if you liked Blade Runner, you will enjoy this interview.

Some Recent Research About Embodied Cognition

There is an ongoing debate on the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum about whether the importance of embodiment is an essential obstacle to trying to simulate human cognition with computers.  Meanwhile, the role of embodiment in cognition continues to be a growing area of research.  I enjoyed a recent post on the Scientific American Community website entitled, Thinking with the Body, by Art Glenberg from Arizona State University.  He reviews recent research by Holt and Bellock.  The bottom line is that even when people are involved in verbal tasks, like reading sentences, their comprehension is influenced by their body knowledge of what is being described.

You can read more at Mind Matters: Neuroscience, Psychology, Psychiatry, and More.

Journey to Perplexity: "The Mind Is Not a Computer"

The blog, Journey to Perplexity, notes that Gerald Edelman's book, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge, offers some valuable insights into why "the mind is not a computer."   I am not sure who writes this blog, but he seems to be writing from a philosophical background.

It has been a while since I read Edelman's book.  Edelman won the Nobel Prize in 1972 for important discoveries about the structure of antibodies, but he has devoted the last several decades to studying neuroscience.  His two most well-known contributions are his theory of so-called 'neural Darwinism,' and his study of the importance of redundancy and feedback loops within the brain.  He has written quite a few books on the subject including, Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness (2005).

Second Nature is Edelman's attempt to address some of the philosophical issues about consciousness, while Wider than the Sky introduces some of his theories about how the brain generates consciousness.

How Philosophy of Mind Influences Artificial Intelligence

The latest episode of Talking Robots is an interview with Inman Harvey of the University of Sussex.  He observes that when researchers attempt to build autonomous robots, their approach is strongly influenced by their philosophy of mind, even if that philosophy is only implicit.  He also points out that what he calls "good old-fashioned AI" fails to represent how brains really work.

This is a point I have emphasized repeatedly.  Inman observes that approaches liked embodied artificial intelligence (which we discussed with Rolf Pfeifer in Episode 25) are really based on a different philosophy of mind that "good old-fashioned AI."

His paper, Philosophy of Mind Using a Screwdriver, is available as a PDF.

Jeff Hawkins Talks About Why Computers Aren't More Like Brains

I often emphasize the fact that our brains our different from computers.  If you would like to read an article that comes at the subject from the opposite direction (computers are not brains), read this summary of a recent talk given by Jeff Hawkins about "why computers can't be more like a brain on Dean Takahashi's Tech Talk Blog.

Jeff Hawkins was the co-founder of Palm, Inc. and he is author of On Intelligence, which was discussed in the Brain Science Podcast  Episode 2.

Embodied Intelligence with Rolf Pfeifer (BSP 25)

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How the Body Shapes the Way We Think, by Rolf Pfeifer and Josh Bongard

Brain Science Podcast  Episode 25 is an interview of author Rolf Pfeifer, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Zurich.  The focus of our conversation was the importance of embodiment.  Brains (and intelligence) cannot be understood separate from their interaction with the body and the physical world.  Pfeifer explains how this realization has led the field of artificial intelligence away from a pure computational approach to one he calls embodied artificial intelligence.  His interview is spiced with numerous examples that demonstrate why this approach is relevant to those of us who are interested in the human brain. 

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Episode Highlights:

  • A brief overview of artificial intelligence.
  • Introduction to biorobotics.
  • Why artificial intelligence and biorobotics are relevant to understand the brain.
  • The meaning of complexity and emergence.
  • Why the close coupling of the sensory and motor systems is essential to intelligence.
  • Applying design principles to understanding intelligence.
  • Numerous examples make these potentially intimidating topics accessible to all listeners.
  • I also introduced a new way for listeners to support the Brain Science Podcast 

Related episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:

Scientists mentioned in the podcast:

    Rodney Brooks

    Books by Rodney Brooks:

    Where to learn more about Pfeifer's work:

    Latest Episode of Talking Robots Explores Mirror Neurons

    talkingrobotpodcastlogo.jpg Michael Arbib of USC discusses (Talking Robots 10/12/07) how the discovery of mirror neurons is inspiring attempts to design robots that can emulate human emotions. This is part of a larger trend in robotics which is called biological robotics in which designs are inspired by biological systems. It is significant that what is learned by attempts to design robotic animals can in turn shed light on how biological systems work. This kind of interdisciplinary work is at the intersection of neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and computer engineering. Dr. Arbib also discusses the challenges of doing interdisciplinary work in an age of exploding knowledge. You can find more about his work including links to a few of his numerous publications on his website.
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    Talking Robots: A podcast About Artificial Intelligence

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    Talking Robots from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, EPFL, Switzerland  Talking Robots "is a podcast featuring interviews with high-profile professionals in robotics and artificial intelligence for an inside view on the science, technology, and business of intelligent robotics"  (description quoted from the website).  The host and project director is Dario Floreano , Director of the School of Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    Thanks to David Gordan, one of my  Brain Science Podcast  listeners, for letting me know about this really fascinating podcast produced in Switzerland.  I think it will be of interest to those of you interested in the human brain as well people interested in computers and especially artificial intelligence.  I have only listened to a couple of episodes so far, but I have been amazed to learn how far this field has come.

    Review of "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins (BSP 2)

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    I first reviewed On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins for The Sci Phi Show.  I am including that review here.  Also in this episode, I consider some of the topics I hope to discuss in future episodes.  Besides intelligence, we will be considering consciousness, emotions and feelings, the role of vision in brain research, and what we can learn from people with brain damage and memory.

    Please send me email or leave comments suggesting what topics you want to here about.

    How to get this episode:

    • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
    • Buy BSP 1-10 (zip file of mp3 files)
    • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
    • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.