Jeff Hawkins - A Thousand Brains_ a New Theory of Intelligence-Hachette UK - Beaumont Louis ![rw-book-cover](https://readwise-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/static/images/default-book-icon-2.dae1dc4d332b.png) ## Metadata - Author: [[Beaumont Louis]] - Full Title: Jeff Hawkins - A Thousand Brains_ a New Theory of Intelligence-Hachette UK - Category: #books - Tags: #ai #neuroscience ## Highlights - the cortical columns, in their world-modeling activities, work semiautonomously. What “we” perceive is a kind of democratic consensus from among them. (Location 48) - We human mammals are the victims of a recurrent dispute: a tussle between the old reptilian brain, which unconsciously runs the survival machine, and the mammalian neocortex sitting in a kind of driver’s seat atop it. This new mammalian brain—the cerebral cortex—thinks. It is the seat of consciousness. It is aware of past, present, and future, and it sends instructions to the old brain, which executes them. (Location 50) - The old brain, schooled by natural selection over millions of years when sugar was scarce and valuable for survival, says, “Cake. Want cake. Mmmm cake. Gimme.” The new brain, schooled by books and doctors over mere tens of years when sugar was over-plentiful, says, “No, no. Not cake. Mustn’t. Please don’t eat that cake.” (Location 53) - But if you ask neuroscientists, almost all of them would admit that we are still in the dark. We have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge and facts about the brain, but we have little understanding of how the whole thing works. (Location 122) - The neocortex occupies about 70 percent of the volume of a human brain and it is responsible for everything we associate with intelligence, from our senses of vision, touch, and hearing, to language in all its forms, to abstract thinking such as mathematics and philosophy. (Location 135) - We deduced that the neocortex stores everything we know, all our knowledge, using something called reference frames. I will explain this more fully later, but for now, consider a paper map as an analogy. A map is a type of model: a map of a town is a model of the town, and the grid lines, such as lines of latitude and longitude, are a type of reference frame. (Location 157) - We realized that the brain’s model of the world is built using maplike reference frames. Not one reference frame, but hundreds of thousands of them. Indeed, we now understand that most of the cells in your neocortex are dedicated to creating and manipulating reference frames, which the brain uses to plan and think. (Location 161) - How do our varied sensory inputs get united into a singular experience? What is happening when we think? How can two people reach different beliefs from the same observations? And why do we have a sense of self? (Location 164) - scientific papers are not well suited for explaining large-scale theories, especially in a way that a nonspecialist can understand. (Location 167) - false beliefs can be difficult to eliminate, and how false beliefs combined with our more primitive emotions are a threat to our long-term survival. (Location 181) - humans are defined by our genes, and the purpose of life is to replicate them. But we are now emerging from our purely biological past. We have become an intelligent species. We are the first species on Earth to know the size and age of the universe. We are the first species to know how the Earth evolved and how we came to be. We are the first species to develop tools that allow us to explore the universe and learn its secrets. From this point of view, humans are defined by our intelligence and our knowledge, not by our genes. (Location 183) ## New highlights added June 22, 2022 at 9:08 AM - The neocortex can temporarily control breathing, as when you consciously decide to hold your breath. But if the brain stem detects that your body needs more oxygen, it will ignore the neocortex and take back control. (Location 269) - Neurons have treelike appendages called axons and dendrites that allow them to send information to each other. (Location 322) - Darwin proposed that the diversity of life is due to one basic algorithm. Mountcastle proposed that the diversity of intelligence is also due to one basic algorithm. (Location 397) - He said that the fundamental unit of the neocortex, the unit of intelligence, was a “cortical column.” Looking at the surface of the neocortex, a cortical column occupies about one square millimeter. It extends through the entire 2.5 mm thickness, giving it a volume of 2.5 cubic millimeters. By this definition, there are roughly 150,000 cortical columns stacked side by side in a human neocortex. You can imagine a cortical column is like a little piece of thin spaghetti. A human neocortex is like 150,000 short pieces of spaghetti stacked vertically next to each other. (Location 405) - Humans can do many things for which there was no evolutionary pressure. For example, our brains did not evolve to program computers or make ice cream—both are recent inventions. The fact that we can do these things tells us that the brain relies on a general-purpose method of learning. To me, this last argument is the most compelling. Being able to learn practically anything requires the brain to work on a universal principle. (Location 431) - In the end, our quest to understand the brain, our quest to understand intelligence, boils down to figuring out what a cortical column does and how it does it. (Location 443) - To make predictions, the brain has to learn what is normal—that is, what should be expected based on past experience. My previous book, On Intelligence, explored this idea of learning and prediction. In the book, I used the phrase “the memory prediction framework” to describe the overall idea, and I wrote about the implications of thinking about the brain this way. I argued that by studying how the neocortex makes predictions, we would be able to unravel how the neocortex works. (Location 486) ## New highlights added June 27, 2022 at 7:27 AM - neurons look like trees. They have branch-like extensions of the cell membrane, called axons and dendrites. The dendrite branches are clustered near the cell and collect the inputs. The axon is the output. (Location 558) - the brain has two types of neurons: neurons that fire when the brain is actually seeing something, and neurons that fire when the brain is predicting it will see something. To avoid hallucinating, the brain needs to keep its predictions separate from reality. (Location 613) - This observation means there must be neurons in the neocortex that represent the location of my finger in a reference frame that is attached to the cup. The movement-related signal we had been searching for, the signal we needed to predict the next input, was “location on the object.” (Location 722) - Reference frames were the missing ingredient, the key to unraveling the mystery of the neocortex and to understanding intelligence. (Location 762) - Recall that a reference frame is like the grid of a map. For example, on a paper map you might locate something using labeled rows and columns, such as row D and column 7. The rows and columns of a map are a reference frame for the area represented by the map. If an animal has a reference frame for its world, then as it explores it can note what it found at each location. When the animal wants to get someplace, such as a shelter, it can use the reference frame to figure out how to get there from its current location. Having a reference frame for your world is useful for survival. (Location 832) - The details of how place cells and grid cells work are complicated and still not completely understood, but you can think of them as creating a map of the environment occupied by the rat. Grid cells are like the rows and columns of a paper map, but overlaid on the animal’s environment. They allow the animal to know where it is, to predict where it will be when it moves, and to plan movements. For example, if I am at location B4 on a map and want to get to location D6, I can use the map’s grid to know that I have to go two squares to the right and two squares down. (Location 849) - every cortical column learns models of objects. The columns do this using the same basic method that the old brain uses to learn models of environments. (Location 954) - Cortical grid cells in what columns attach reference frames to objects. Cortical grid cells in where columns attach reference frames to your body. (Location 1038) - A well-known trick for remembering a list of items, known as the method of loci or sometimes the memory palace, is to imagine placing the items you want to remember at different locations in your house. To recall the list of items, you imagine walking through your house, which brings back the memory of each item one at a time. (Location 1073) - However, if you are not trained in mathematics, then equations and other mathematical notations will appear as meaningless scribbles. You may even recognize an equation as one you have seen before, but without a reference frame, you will have no idea how to manipulate it to solve a problem. You can be lost in math space, in the same way you can be lost in the woods without a map. (Location 1139) - This is one of the reasons why the binding problem is considered a mystery, but we have proposed an answer: columns vote. Your perception is the consensus the columns reach by voting. (Location 1345)