APL Colloquium

May 14, 2021

Colloquium Topic: "A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence" with Jeff Hawkins

A Thousand Brains, a new book by Jeff Hawkins, addresses one of science’s greatest questions: what is intelligence and how does the brain create it? In this session, host Daniel Wilt will talk with Jeff about the new book and its potential impact on machine and human intelligence. The book is written in three parts: A New Understanding of the Brain, Machine Intelligence, and Human Intelligence.

  • In Part One, A New Understanding of the Brain, Jeff explains the primary principles of the Thousand Brains Theory and walks through the series of discoveries, some of which were quite surprising, that led to the theory’s creation.
  • In Part Two, Machine Intelligence, Jeff discusses how the theory can impact the future of artificial intelligence. He looks at why today’s AI is not intelligent, whether machines can be conscious, and the existential risks of machine intelligence.
  • In Part Three, Human Intelligence, Jeff examines how human intelligence is not only the source of our success but also may be our greatest threat. He explores how the brain creates false beliefs and why they’re so hard to overcome. He also introduces different ways we can improve the future of humanity and reduce the risks we face as a species.

Colloquium Speaker: Jeff Hawkins

Jeff Hawkins is a scientist whose life-long interest in neuroscience led to the creation of Numenta and its focus 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. Jeff has written two books, On Intelligence (2004 with Sandra Blakeslee) and A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (2021).

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