Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hierarchical Temporal Memory: Concepts, Theory, and Terminology

Published by Jeff Hawkins and Dileep George, Numenta Inc.

There are many things humans find easy to do that computers are currently unable to do. Tasks such as visual pattern recognition, understanding spoken language, recognizing and manipulating objects by touch, and navigating in a complex world are easy for humans. Yet, despite decades of research, we have no viable algorithms for performing these and other cognitive functions on a computer. In a human, these capabilities are largely performed by the
neocortex. Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) is a technology that replicates the structural and algorithmic properties of the neocortex. HTM therefore offers the promise of building machines that approach or exceed human level performance for many cognitive tasks. Click for more... (.pdf file)

Jeff Hawkins: Brain science is about to fundamentally change computing

About this Talk
To date, there hasn't been an overarching theory of how the human brain really works, Jeff Hawkins argues in this compelling talk. That's because we still haven't defined intelligence accurately. But one thing's for sure, he says: The brain isn't like a powerful computer processor. It's more like a memory system that records everything we experience and helps us predict, intelligently, what will happen next. Bringing this new brain science to computer devices will enable powerful new applications -- and it will happen sooner than you think.

Evolution in Your Brain: A biological point of view from a great nobelist

Published by Susan Kruglinski on the Discover magazine

Some of the most profound questions in science are also the least tangible. What does it mean to be sentient? What is the self? When the discussion turns to these imponderables, many minds defer rather than get mired in such muddy issues. Neuroscientist Gerald Edelman dives right in. A physician and cell biologist who won a Nobel Prize for his work on the structure of antibodies, Edelman is now obsessed with the enigma of human consciousness—except he doesn’t see it as a mystery. In Edelman’s grand theory of the mind, consciousness is a biological phenomenon. The developing brain undergoes its own process, similar to natural selection: Neurons proliferate and form connections in infancy; experience weeds out the useless from the useful, molding the adult brain in sync with its environment. Click for more...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Consciousness and Computers

Published by Neville Holmes (University of Tasmania) on "Computer.org"
(Computer IEEE Magazine, July 2007)

Recently, the cover of an issue of Time (29 Jan. 2007) that appeared to promote ancient phrenology caught my attention. Closer inspection showed it to be a "Mind & Body Special Issue." This surprised me because The Economist's special Christmas/New Year issue (23 Dec. 2006) had featured the supplement "A Survey of the Brain." So I bought the copy of Time to compare with the earlier issue of The Economist. Although both started with a signed introduction, the rest of the content was stylistically opposed. The Economist had five anonymous reports compiled from interviews with, and quotations of, experts, the lot decorated with a few drawings and diagrams. Time had 10 richly illustrated essays informed and often written by experts, and followed by a short puzzle section. The contest, if indeed it was one, seemed to be a standoff, like a saber versus a shillelagh. The computing profession is relevant here. Click for more...

[G.K Comment: As Neville Holmes says: "The conscious mind is not mysterious, just misunderstood".]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Comparison of the brain and a computer

Published in Wikipedia

Much interest has been focused on comparing the brain with computers. A variety of obvious analogies exist: for example, individual neurons can be compared with a microchip, and the specialised parts of the brain can be compared with graphics cards and other system components. However, such comparisons are fraught with difficulties. Perhaps the most fundamental difference between brains and computers is that today's computers operate by performing often sequential instructions from an input program, while no clear analogy of a program appears in human brains. The closest equivalent would be the idea of a logical process, but the nature and existence of such entities are subjects of philosophical debate. Given Turing's model of computation, the Turing machine, this may be a functional, not fundamental, distinction. However, Maass and Markram have recently argued that "in contrast to Turing machines, generic computations by neural circuits are not digital, and are not carried out on static inputs, but rather on functions of time" (the Turing machine computes computable functions). Click for more...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Robot unravels mystery of walking

Published on 12/07/2007 by BBC

Roboticists are using the lessons of a 1930s human physiologist to build the world's fastest walking robot. Runbot is a self-learning, dynamic robot, which has been built around the theories of Nikolai Bernstein. "Getting a robot to walk like a human requires a dynamic machine," said Professor Florentin Woergoetter. Runbot is a small, biped robot which can move at speeds of more than three leg lengths per second, slightly slower than the fastest walking human. Click for more...

The hack of the century: Greek mobile wiretap scandal unpicked

Published on 11/07/2007
by John Leyden on "The Register"

More details have emerged on how Vodafone's Greek network was bugged three years ago to spy on top government officials.
To recap one of the most extraordinary wiretapping scandals of the post-Cold War era: eavesdroppers tapped the mobile phones of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, cabinet ministers and security officials for about nine months between June 2004-Mar 2005 around the time of the Athens Olympics.

The mobile phones of about 100 people, whose ranks include journalists and Arabs living in Greece, as well as the country's political and security elite and a US embassy worker, were monitored after snooping software was illegally installed on the systems of Vodafone Greece. Click for more...

Monday, July 09, 2007

How To Think About Cognitive Systems: Requirements and Designs

Published by Aaron Sloman,

School of Computer Science,
The University of Birmingham, UK

Much early thinking about AI was about forms of representation, the knowledge expressed, and the algorithms to operate on those representations. Later there was much in-fighting between factions promoting particular forms of representation and associated algorithms, e.g. neural computations, evolutionary algorithms, reactive behaviours, physics-inspired dynamical systems. More recently, attention has turned to ways of combining different mechanisms, formalisms and kinds of knowledge within a single multi-functional system, i.e. within one architecture. Minsky's Society of Mind was a major example. Click for more...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Grand Challenge 5 (GC-5): Architecture of Brain and Mind

Integrating high level cognitive processes with brain mechanisms and functions in a working robot.

Click for more...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rat-brained robot thinks like the real thing

Published 04/07/07 by Duncan Graham-Rowe on "NewScientistTech"

A robot controlled by a simulated rat brain has proved itself to be a remarkable mimic of rodent behaviour in series of classic animal experiments. The robot's biologically-inspired control software uses a functional model of "place cells". These are neurons in an area of the brain called the hippocampus that help real rats to map their environment. They fire when an animal is in a familiar location. Alfredo Weitzenfeld, a roboticist at the ITAM technical institute in Mexico City, carried out the work by reprogramming an AIBO robot dog, made by Japanese firm Sony, with the rat-inspired control software. Click for more...

[G.K Comment: Please allow me to say that simulating animal brains by creating highly complex software is not the way forward. The question is how can we create a brain platform that can program itself in a complex way(!)... i.e. in the same way that a baby evolves into an adult. Does that make sense?"]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Brain - some basic concepts by IBM

A very good webpage by IBM, listing some basic scientific concepts on the way the human brain works. Click here for more...