August 14, 2010

Reverse Engineering Brains Is Within Reach

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Terry Sejnowski - Reverse Engineering Brains Is Within Reach

When physicists puzzle out the workings of some new part of nature, that knowledge can be used to build devices that do amazing things -- airplanes that fly, radios that reach millions of listeners. When we come to understand how brains function, we should become able to build amazing devices with cognitive abilities -- such as cognitive cars that are better at driving than we are because they communicate with other cars and share knowledge on road conditions. In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering chose as one of its grand challenges to reverse-engineer the human brain. This is already happening, though not in a way that might be obvious. In 2005, Simon Haykin, director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at McMaster University, wrote an influential article called “Cognitive radio: Brain empowered wireless communications” which laid the groundwork for a new generation of wireless networks that use computational principles from brains to predictively model the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, and are more efficient at using the bandwidth than current standards. Early versions of these intelligent communications systems are already planned for the next federal auction of the electromagnetic spectrum. Soon to come are similar ways to enhance other utilities, such as the “cognitive power grid,” which will automatically anticipate and regulate the flow of power around the country. The sensorium and motorium of these cognitive systems will be the infrastructure of the world. Sensors will stream information -- on the use of electricity, weather patterns, and travel conditions -- and use this information to optimize goals, such as reducing power usage and travel time, by regulating the flow of resources. Parts of this system are already in place, such as sensors and the internet, but there is as yet no central nervous system to integrate this torrent of information and take appropriate actions. But as it increasingly mimics the workings of our brains, the world around us will become smarter and more efficient.

10^11 100 billion neurons
10 ^ 15 synapses, 1000 trillion,
100s of proteins in the synapse so it is unclear how much computing is going on their but potential quite a lot of states.
10^15 bits/sec bandwidth

Many levels of brain maps.
Bees are champion learners of the invertabrates

One of keys of our new capabilities is the ability to not just observe and measure neurons but are able to manipulate and control them. so we can do a lot more experiments now.

VUMmx1 - octopamine has been manipulated in bees to artificially train it

Temporal difference learning

Cognitive dynamics will be used within 5 years for
cognitive radio
cognitive radar
cognitive cars
cognitive grid


Behavior and Our Brain - Mysteries of the Brain - Terry Sejnowski>

Terry Sejnowski webpage at the Salk Institute (University California at San Diego

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