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A Neurobiological Perspective on Building Intelligent Devices What is "intelligence", and what problems might arise in building an intelligent device? Are
 

Summary: A Neurobiological Perspective on Building Intelligent Devices
What is "intelligence", and what problems might arise in building an intelligent device? Are
human brains, with their greatly expanded neocortex, the only currently existing intelligent
devices? Apart from some unconvincing computer programs, the only known intelligent devices
seem to be animals, particularly birds and, especially, mammals. However, there is at least one
other clear example of natural "intelligence": all living organisms, notoriously, appear to be
intelligently designed, even though this appearance is achieved by selective amplification of
molecular accidents. This form of natural intelligence (i.e. the Darwinian "algorithm" comprised
of iterative replication/mutation/transcription/translation/selection steps) is the only other
successful exemplar of "intelligence" and provides a thread through the neocortical labyrinth.
Fig. 1. Left: Interaction between an animal's brain (B) and its world (W). The brain's input-output
relation reflects its synaptic weights, which depend on the history of ancestors (gray zone, "genes")
and, especially in complex animals, on the history of the animal itself ("learning"). Right: the 2 main
components of a mammal's brain: subcortical structures (which learn pairwise correlations) and the
neocortex (which learns higher order correlations). The neocortex relies particularly heavily on
learning, and provides corrections to subcortical computations.
What is going on inside the skull (Fig 1)? There are 2 basic processes: a rapid (millisecond)
"integration" step, in which synaptically weighted voltages are collected over the surface of a
neuron, combined (possibly in a nonlinear way), and sent, via more synapses, to other neurons,
and a slower "learning" process, which uses the rapid signals to modify the weights such that

  

Source: Adams, Paul R. - Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, SUNY at Stony Brook

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine