Neuroscience and the Vision of Computing’s Future

Whilst attending OSCON, Simon ran into and conducted a short interview with Jeff Hawkins. Hawkins has a number of different claims to fame. The Palm Pilot and the Treo particularly stick out in the memory and indeed it’s  for “the creation of the first commercially successful example of a hand-held computing device” that he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Yet despite originating what is now a massive market in hand held devices, his personal passion is to be found in neuroscience and it’s to that cause that his energy is now dedicated.

Hawkins has a vision of computers in the future which learn and adapt by recognising patterns in the data they receive. In doing so, they’d be imitating behaviours found in studies of the brains neocortex. As Hawkins explains it, the potential of the field is enormous. He compares today’s “intelligent machines”  as being comparable to the computers of the 1950’s, beginning to be useful, but poised to undergo dramatic improvements, changes and developments over the coming decades in ways which are impossible to predict.

Hawkins see’s himself as a catalyst of the fields more widespread adoption. As a significant step towards that goal, he used his OSCON keynote to announce NuPIC. NuPIC is the open source project associated with his brain code and an opportunity for those interested in his ideas to play with the code for themselves. As Hawkins see’s it, making the code publicly available in this way is crucial to further adoption and development of the field. Read the full interview in the InfoWorld article.