Just yesterday we posted on efforts for creating "wiring diagrams" of
the brain (see post
just below). However, exactly how much light these maps alone will shed
on the brain is still somewhat controversial. In the latest Talking Robots episode we talk
Edelman, a Nobel
laureate who after his work on immunology turned his focus to
studying the brain. His approach does not focus on wiring diagrams, but
may be complementing other approaches: Edelman focuses on how the
brain's wiring can development and organize to give rise to higher brain
functions. And, importantly, his approach involves robots! His brain-based
devices (BBDs) interact with real-world environments - to see how
check out some movies. In the Talking Robots interview,
Edelman gives an overview of his theory to explain higher brain
functions - and how he goes about testing it.
I've been an avid listener to the Talking Robots podcasts, and they've
all been a great listen, but for me, this one has really stood out.
Edelman's brain-based automatons seem to be making demonstrable progress
towards solving the general AI problem, especially the recent models
which use the artificial hippocampus approach. It's so exciting that
artificial brains are showing signs of acquiring and recalling spacial
and episodic memories.
In this podcast, Edelman also discusses consciousness, and the
scientific approaches he and his institute are employing to study
consciousness - fascinating stuff.
Has anyone here read Dr. Edelman's book "Brain Science and Human
Knowledge"? Is it worth putting on the Christmas list?
I think that at the present time Edelman's theory remains as one of the top contenders for an explanation of how the brain actually works. One criticism which you could make of Edelman is that his books tend to be written in a quite dry and technical style. His theory isn't a one-liner and you do have to persevere to understand what he's on about, since some of the terms he uses may be unfamiliar at first. However, in my opinion it's far better to have an in-depth theory described in technical detail than the sort of vague hand-waving explanations which typically dominate this area of science.