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On Intelligence Paperback – July 14, 2005
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To his credit, Hawkins does cite Grossberg approvingly at several junctures in his argument, but he fails to take into account several of Grossberg's greatest insights into neocortical processing: his theory of how serial processing can be accomplised in a parallel anatomy and his theory of "rebounds". The latter is especially important since it explains how new memories are prevented from overwriting old memories. For example, when I learn a second language, it doesn't overwrite my first.
These criticisms, however, are in no way meant to detract in the slightest from Hawkins' superb book. It is an eminently readable account of neocortical computing, and correct in all its broad brush strokes. If you are as beguiled by "On Intelligence" as the other reviewers in this thread, my purpose is only to alert you to the even deeper wonders that are to be found in Grossberg's work. As I have said, his work is difficult, but his 1980 and 1982 Psychological Review articles will provide good entry-points. Those of you with an interest in brain and language will find an even better second course in neocortical computing in Loritz' "How the Brain Evolved Language" (Oxford University Press, 1999).
He also persuaded me that he has some important insights of that model that I found tantalizing, new and exciting. His central model concerns the role of the cortex in producing intelligence. He makes the case for a central dogma he calls "the memory-prediction framework." This idea says that the cortex is a machine for making predictions for temporal sensory patterns based on memories of past patterns. The prediction algorithm carried out in the cortex is the same for all of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, etc., which accounts for, among other things, the basic physiological uniformity of the cortex, and the plasticity of the brain in adapting to such problems as blindness or deafness.
He argues that since the "clock" of the brain operates at a tick-rate on the order of 5 milli-seconds, and most of the functions of the brain (e. g.Read more ›
What is especially frustrating to this AI (specifically vision) researcher, is that Hawkins does not seem to be aware of any AI research that has been going on in the last 15 years, during which data-driven learning approaches have become standard. I was merely suspicious of his ignorance until I checked his bibliography, in which the most recent technical AI citation was from before 1990.
Furthermore, Hawkin's theories on the brain are largely unsubstantiated. He states that his ideas were largely sparked by one dated paper that other researchers have largely ignored - probably for good reason. For instance, he claims that, since different parts of the brain have a similar physical structure, they must function similarly. This is very oversimplistic.
Nevertheless, I did find parts of the book to be entertaining and appreciated his view on the brain's role as a predictor. Although I do not think that I completely wasted my time in reading this book, my time could have been better spent reading something else. Therefore, I recommend this book to non-scientists who want to read about the brain but aren't particularly concerned about the accuracy/usefulness of what they read. Just be a very critical reader and be careful not to be smacked in the course of all the hand-waving!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was released in 2005. Still there are only close to 250 ratings on this book. The ratings, if not excellent, are good but before deciding to read the book I was wondering... Read morePublished 20 days ago by R
Jeff Hawkins seems to provide the best theory of mind to date. Certainly, as a model that makes sense of human cognitive operation, this seems to be the most useful and inclusive... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Andrew Webster
Great read, inspired me to get into casual neuroscience research and do some hands on synthetic intelligence based computer programming.Published 21 days ago by Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo
This book is brilliant. The cortical algorithm presented here unifies and simplifies so many brain functions. A truly excellent paradigm!Published 2 months ago by Silver One
Excellent book on the mechanics of how the brain learns to predict!Published 5 months ago by Joe O'Neal
Horrible piece of marketing. Jeff Hawkins is the worst media maniac I've ever seen.
Only chapter that is worth anything is chapter 4.
Jeff Hawkins has probably dug deeper than anyone else on the topic of a common cortical model, and how to exploit that idea to build working systems. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer