Notes on Kurzweil

Communications between cells happens purely on electrical and chemical basis.

The neocortex is present only in the mammalian species. The structure is hierarchical and is responsible for sensory perception, and in humans, rational thought. It is wrinkled to provide the most surface area, it constitutes the majority of our frontal lobe. The fundamental structures of the neocortex are remarkable uniform, it consists of singular mechanism repeated over and over again in a physical space of 2.5mm. The complexity of the system comes about by the intricate way it folds in on itself and the elaborate connectivity of the neural axons and dendrites. In order to understand the complexity of the system we need to develop abstract models of representation. In so doing we are creating and interface to manage and comprehend the complexity that arises from the 300+ pattern recognizers present in the neocortex.

Our patent recognizers work in parallel, although not firing all at once. Compared to computers, the pattern recognizers in our neocortex are slower. Where computers are faster at serial processing, their ability to recognize patterns is extremely limited. On the contrary, we are extremely adept at pattern recognition, but serial & logical processing must be learnt and deduced from patterns. We use the redundancy of recognizers to form comparisons between our numerous recognized patterns in order to create logic and think rationally.

In respect to the direction of data flow in the hierarchy of the neocortex, it is important to note that information can travel both up and down the hierarchy. Based on thresholds the neuron may fire, these thresholds may change based on weather or not the particular neuron is primed for it’s particular pattern. This threshold fungibility allows for the prediction of patterns, but may also allow for the mistaken recognition of patterns in cases where a prediction is proven false.

Where communication in the neocortex travels in a 1 dimensional array that utilizes lists for organization, the information (stimulus) may reach the brain from a 2,3 and at time 4 dimensional sensory input. With respect to memory, they have no “named” patterns, but must be triggered by other patterns, subsequently, additional memories and patterns are triggered… in essence recreating the moment of that particular memory. Like and orphaned web page, if no patterns or memories connect to a particular memory, it cannot be retrieved. In this process the notion of redundancy is important, as alternate memories or recognized patterns may be used to retrieve a seemingly unretrievable memory, even though the memory of the event may not be recollected.

The hierarchy of language simulates the hierarchy of the brain, which in turn simulates the hierarchy of nature.

Love this reading… and could write more… but think I will stop here.

I like Kurzweils theory on PRTM and think his thesis is valid, I believe there are missing element… but feel his description of a great foundation for the lay person. Getting deeper into the particular biological, physical, electrical and neurochemical processes would be great… but think this might be better suited for a neuroscience student. As he describes about the need for abstracted models to understand complexity… in the same manner, his abstracted method of description allows for access to the complexity of a system such as the brain.

The systems that Kurzweil describes in this chapter is quite similar to parallel computing. But the majority of computer processing is done in series. By having computers perform pattern recognition one may be able to emulate the systems and performance of the brain thus giving rise to better speech recognition, computer vision or, the holy grail of artificial intelligent machines. In my opinion, given the exponential growth in computation, i believe this achievement is accessible in the not far future.