Another Post About Numenta

I could kick myself for not reading On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. I was checking out its availability at Amazon and was gobsmacked by this review:

By late 2012, the short term predictions in this book have already happened. Might be worth paying attention to the rest.

This book was a great read, very accessible and might prove to be a very important book one day. It’s concise and to the point and if you have any interest whatsoever in AI you simply can not miss this it. It’s a quick read that will without a doubt have a significant impact on how you view the future of artificial intelligence.

As a testament to it’s relevancy today (I’m writing this Sept 2012, seven years after the book was published) he predicts three technological applications that may become available in the short term (5-10 years) due to breakthroughs in the kind of trainable AI this book discusses:

Computer vision and teaching a computer to tell the difference between a cat and a dog (this was successfully demonstrated in a study published in June 2012 – the paper is called “Building High-level Features Using Large Scale Unsupervised Learning” and is available online, or just search for “computer learns to recognize cats” for articles)

PDAs (as they were called back then) will understand naturally spoken instructions like “Move my daughter’s basketball game on Sunday to 10 in the morning” (this kind of sentence, copied from the book verbatim, is exactly where Apple’s AI application SIRI shines)

Smart/autonomous cars – in Aug 2012, Google announced that their self driving cars have logged 300 K accident free miles in live traffic on public roads, exceeding the average distance a human drives without accident.

The thing to note here is that when he wrote the book these three things had hurdles that we did not know how to solve, and at the time there was no clear linear progression of existing solutions that would guarantee they would be solved. His prediction is that we’ll be able to train computers to recognize patterns by themselves which will allow us to eventually solve the problems (and this is exactly how the computer learned to recognize cat faces from youtube videos)

Furthermore, he predicts that AI will become one of the hottest fields within the next 10 years – and with the current explosion of interest in Big Data, Machine Learning, and applications like SIRI it is hard to deny that it looks like we’re right in the midst of seeing just this happen.

The grander implications of the model of this book won’t be known for another 10-20 years or more, but 7 years in his general predictions about the field of AI have been very accurate.

Previously here:

Who Will Buy Numenta?
Jeff Hawkins, Founder Of Mobile Computing

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