Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The man with two brains

Published on E&T magazine of IET by Paul Dempsey
Jeff Hawkins sired the personal digital assistant and today’s smartphones as the founder of Palm Computing. But, frankly, this was never much of a priority for him. Even as a young engineer at Intel, he was nagging microprocessor pioneer Ted Hoff to let him investigate parallels between computing and the human brain. Back in the 1970s, Hoff said no – a decision Hawkins now agrees with – but as science and theory advanced, he returned to his obsession. In 2002, Hawkins set up the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, concentrating on brain theory, and in 2004, launched the start-up Numenta, which is developing a computing architecture called Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM). At this year’s International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), Hawkins described prototype HTM visual recognition systems, addressing a task that remains hugely challenging for computers. But it is one that the animal brain finds quite straightforward. It is one reason why a growing body of people, such as Hawkins, are looking more closely at the structure of the brain. Click fore more...

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