On Open Intelligence

Jeff Hawkins (Numenta, Inc.)
Location: Portland Ballroom
Average rating: ***..
(3.97, 39 ratings)

Numenta is working on machine intelligence. Our approach is to first understand, in detail, how the neocortex works and then build systems that work on those principles. In the past few years we made good progress on both the theory and implementing the theory in software. The resulting technology is a type of memory system based on sparse representations and distributed sequence memory. Like the brain, systems built on this technology need to be trained on streaming sensory data. The system learns the spatial and temporal structure in sensory data.

We have applied this technology to a commercial product called Grok. Grok is fed data from sensors, it discovers the structure in the data and uses this to make predictions and detect anomalies. Grok is being applied in diverse industries such as energy pricing, product forecasting, predictive maintenance, and finance.

The technology we have created represents a new approach to machine learning and we believe it will be the fundamental component of all machine intelligence. We published the details of the theory in a white paper in 2009. There is substantial interest in working with this technology from both academics and technologists. In my talk I will describe our vision for machine intelligence. I will give a brief introduction to the technology. And I will describe why we are creating an open source project.

Photo of Jeff  Hawkins

Jeff Hawkins

Numenta, Inc.

Jeff Hawkins is an engineer, serial entrepreneur, scientist, inventor, and author. He was a founder of two mobile computing companies, Palm and Handspring, and was the architect of many computing products such as the PalmPilot and Treo smartphone. Throughout his life Jeff has also had a deep interest in neuroscience and theories of the neocortex. In 2002 he founded the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, a scientific institute focused on understanding how the neocortex processes information. The institute is now located at U.C. Berkeley. In 2004 we wrote the book On Intelligence, which describes progress on understanding the neocortex. In 2005 he co-founded Numenta, a startup company building a technology based on neocortical theory. It is his hope that Numenta will play a catalytic role in the emerging field of machine intelligence.

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


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