Jeff Hawkins at Strange Loop

Rob Haitani • Marketing

Jeff Hawkins recently gave a keynote address at
Strange Loop 2012, a multi-disciplinary
conference on diverse
topics like emerging languages, alternative databases, concurrency and
distributed systems.

This talk was similar to the keynote speech Jeff gave at the recent ISCA
Conference, providing a good overview of the neuroscience and technology behind
Grok (e.g.,sparse distributed representations and sequence memory). In this
version, Jeff shows an example of how Grok adapts to unexpected change when
predicting energy consumption in a building. At first, Grok learns a weekly
pattern: energy usage climbs during the day, but drops at night and on weekends,
when the building is closed. One week, however, Thursday and Friday are
holidays, so the building is closed. Grok predicts that energy will rise on
Thursday morning, only to see that its predictions are inaccurate, because
energy consumption remains flat in the empty building. Instead of blindly
forging ahead with the rest of the regular Thursday pattern, however, Grok
adapts automatically and shifts its forecast to predict flat levels. Grok was
not trained with data for holidays, but it recognizes that the pattern has
changed and adapts accordingly.

Jeff also spends a little more time talking about the future of the technology,
including the somewhat contrarian opinion that "The goal here is not to build
…human-like things, it’s not to pass the Turing Test. I have no interest in
that whatsoever. I want to build machines that are useful for humans." The real
potential of the technology lies in machines that can think millions of times
faster than humans. These machines could have memory systems much larger than
the human brain, with creative sensor arrays detecting patterns outside the
realm of what humans can perceive intuitively. But they wouldn’t get tired and
would have neither desires nor sentience. These will be tools that enhance
knowledge discovery; they could be the machines that we can send out to explore
the universe.

You can watch the video
here.

Rob Haitani • Marketing

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