September 21, 2018

Colloquium Speaker: Jeff Hawkins


Jeff Hawkins is a scientist and co-founder at Numenta, an independent research company focused on neocortical theory. His research focuses on how the cortex learns predictive models of the world through sensation and movement. In 2002, he founded the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, where he served as Director for three years. The institute is currently located at U.C. Berkeley. Previously, he co-founded two companies, Palm and Handspring, where he designed products such as the PalmPilot and Treo smartphone. In 2004 he wrote On Intelligence, a book about cortical theory.

Hawkins earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 1979. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003




Colloquium Topic: Location, Location, Location: A Framework for Intelligence and Cortical Computation

The human neocortex is the organ of intelligence, responsible for perception, language, and high-level thought. How the neocortex works is considered one of the greatest unsolved scientific challenges. Progress on this problem is expected to lead to advances in AI, disease, education, and robotics.

In this talk I will introduce a framework for understanding how the neocortex works. The framework is based on a type of neuron, called a grid cell, that represents your location in the world. Grid cells exist in an older part of the brain but recent evidence indicates grid cells also exist in the neocortex. This profoundly changes how we think about the neocortex, suggesting a novel framework where everything the neocortex knows is stored in a location-based format and the essential operations of the neocortex involve processing location spaces.  I will describe the framework, explain how the mechanisms evolved, and discuss several implications.