Friday, November 8, 2013

Out in the Open: Palm Pilot Inventor Wants to Open Source the Human Brain

Wired News (10/28/13) Klint Finley 

Computer scientist and Grok co-founder Jeff Hawkins has devised a unified theory of the brain's inner workings and produced algorithms for applying the theory to computer science. He also has open-sourced his work so anyone can freely apply the algorithms and software to the construction of their own machine-learning systems. This effort included publishing a white paper outlining Hawkins' theory and underlying math, and the release of the NuPIC open source platform, which includes Grok's algorithms and a software framework for building prediction systems. Grok produces a cloud-based service for monitoring IT infrastructure, and its ability to detect abnormal occurrences or alert the IT team of an impending failure is based on its mimicry of the brain's pattern-recognition systems. Grok's foundational cortical-learning algorithms attempt to realistically simulate the human neocortex and emulate its six-layer hierarchy. Grok's Matthew Taylor says NuPIC's uniqueness partly stems from its online learning capabilities, in which "as patterns change, it will forget the old patterns and remember the new patterns" in much the same way the brain adapts to change. NuPIC's potential applications besides IT infrastructure monitoring could include natural-language processing, machine vision, and robotics.