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A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence

por Jeff Hawkins

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Mostrando 5 de 5
I find the idea that the brain contains many many areas each creating and enhancing models of boots of the world around us and then linking to make a fuller and more complex model is very exciting to me.
While he transitions to ideas that may be considered political, I would agree with him that they are basically fact based and certainly thought provoking. ( )
1 vota waldhaus1 | Aug 21, 2021 |
Amazing Discussion Marred By Myopia In Its Final Act. This book, by the guy that created the Palm Pilot (who has since turned to study neuroscience, which he had wanted to do from the beginning apparently), describes the intriguing new theory of how the brain works that he and his team have crafted very well. Hawkins does a truly excellent job of making the advanced theoretical neuroscience he works with approachable by all, from those who have barely ever heard of the word "neuroscience" to his colleagues and competitors in the field. In discussing the neuroscience leading up to the "thousand brain" concept and in discussing how the "thousand brain" idea directly impacts computing and artificial intelligence, Hawkins is truly amazing. The perils come in the third act, when Hawkins begins to apply the theory and what he believes it could mean directly to humans. Here, he begins to sound both Transhumanist and Randian in his claims of absolute certitude that certain beliefs are false - even while actively ignoring that by the very things he is claiming, there is so much that we simply cannot know - and therefore, logically, there can be no true certitude on these claims. While it was tempting to drop the overall work another star specifically for how bad this particular section is, ultimately the sections of the book leading up to that point are so strong that I simply can't go quite that far. So read this book through Parts I and II, just be aware up front that Part III is the weakest section of the book and could easily be skipped entirely. Recommended. ( )
  BookAnonJeff | Jul 11, 2021 |
How is this not on the news? It's an amazing thesis. I hope it proves to be the paradigm that creates the next breakthrough in AI.

It is slightly humorous how many times the author reminds us how ahead of its time Palm was. Not sure why these credentials are relevant to this book so I assume the author is just still bitter about it. ( )
  Paul_S | Jun 23, 2021 |
Part I is deeply provocative and interesting with a new theory on how the brain - specifically the NeoCortex works, and resulting intelligence.

He goes off the rails in latter parts when he dives into politics and religion and basically insinuates anyone who disagrees with him is uniformed or irrational - yet he admits he can't prove them wrong - nor can he prove he's right (e.g. God). Entirely unnecessary. Editors should have caught this and deleted the entire lecture on this. ( )
  starkravingmad | May 3, 2021 |
I love reading about the brain; about neuroscience, consciousness, and emotions, and there are a few books (non-fiction) I have read in this category that have absolutely changed my life. (At the top of this list is “The Brain That Changes Itself”, by Norman Doidge). And I now have another to add to this list - “A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins.

While I definitely did not agree with all of the authors suggestions, and found several of them downright terrifying (particularly in Part Two and Three) this book was mind-blowing in it’s scope, opening my eyes (and my thousand brains) to a whole new way of thinking about intelligence - how it is constructed, modeled and stored in the human brain - and what this new thinking means for future machine intelligence (AI) and its potential and ultimate place in the long term survival of the human race. Heady stuff. (Pun intended!)

Written in a way that is much more accessible to the lay-person than a typical book on such subjects, the first part of the book describes a new theory on how intelligence is constructed, based on the neocortex (the wrinkled wrapper around the brain, a 2.5 mm layer that is the newest layer of the brain, evolutionally speaking). In this theory, Hawkins provides a fascinating look at neurons, the brains nerve cells, and how they are aligned along the neocortex in rows, but more importantly, as far as intelligence is concerned, in columns. These cortical columns, of which there are about 150,000, are each identically structured with general-purpose cells capable of modeling and manipulating objects or concepts, learning as they go, and using this learning to continuously form predictions. This is achieved through the use of reference frames, conceptual maps in essence, that are cross-tagged dynamically with thousands of objects as we learn and connect them to form our ongoing mental representation of reality.

Simulations of these cortical-column-based modelers can form the basis for new and evolving forms of machine intelligence, providing the much-needed impetus, Hawkins believes, to fulfill the promise of the exploding field of AI. This is explored in Part two of this astounding book in some detail, along with Hawkins thoughts on what truly intelligent machines, constructed in this way, (that is, self-learning and independent), can be used to achieve along with what risks to humankind may be involved in the wide-scale adoption of these super-robotic intelligent beings. This section is more speculative, less grounded on science and facts, and definitively more controversial, both in its content and its treatment of ethical questions. There were many areas here that made me cringe, ethically, particularly in the treatment of “consciousness”, including both what it is and what it implies. For example, - Hawkins determines there is no ethical quandary in turning off a “conscious” robot (assuming such a robot could be constructed) as they would have no feelings, (fear or survival instinct). In my mind, extending this premise to other conscious-but-not-feeling creatures leads to some pretty scary ethical decisions.

Hawkins closes with a discussion of the old-brain vs new conflict, the long term survival of the human race, human or robotic colonization of other planets, intergalactic communication, and our obligation to preserve knowledge as the legacy of the human race.


This is a book to devour, think about, sift through the ideas, and take away some nuggets to be pulled out, again and again, to reconsider. In my case at least, a great many of those nuggets are mind-altering.

A big thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an advance review copy of this book. All thoughts presented here are my own. ( )
  porte01 | Mar 27, 2021 |
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