Book Review: On Intelligence

As a student of practical applications of neuroscience, I enjoyed On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. In the past year I read How the Mind Works and Mind Wide Open. On Intelligence ranks up there as good reading for anyone interested in this area.

And everyone must be interested in neuroscience. The advancements we’ve made over the past 50 years in understanding our brains are incredible. We are finding out more and more that our brains really are us, and that the world is merely a reflection of how our sensory organs process sights, sounds, and so forth. At the expense of being repetitive, I will reiterate my prediction: soon, within my lifetime for sure, a major divide between the haves and have-nots is going to be one’s ability to understand his or her own cognitive makeup in significant detail. Imagine being able to walk down the street and by the end of the day know EXACTLY how you learn, process information, make decisions, etc. It won’t be cheap. But for those who have resources, the implications for that intellectual leg-up are going to be astounding.

Back to On Intelligence – Palm Pilot founder Jeff Hawkins’ key premise is that prediction is at the core of neuroscience. What separates humans from other big brained animals is that we have developed an extraordinary system for storing memories and then predicting based on those memories. Thus, the creation of truly intelligent machines will depend on equipping those machines with sensory capabilities so they can accumulate their own memories. Humans are limited by our biological neuron limit whereas a machine, given enough memory capacity, could capture much more of the world.

Hawkins ends with a plea to high school and college students to enter the field of neuroscience. I’m not enough of a scientist to do so, but clearly, this is a field on the brink of becoming really big. The least I can do is be informed.

One Response to Book Review: On Intelligence

  1. Mari says:

    Ben,

    I’ve viewed your personal site and I am impressed with what you’ve accomplished so far! I encourage you to continue writing and acting upon your ideas. The world needs more people like you.

    I agree that as time progresses the amount of information available will increase exponentially! This will require us to be more educated, adapted to our own personal learning style, and know what to take in, and what information to leave be. What I didn’t realize, thought, was how significant self-knowledge was to all this. I’ll be spending the remainder of the day contemplating this!

    For long been curious as to how the mind works, its capacity, and our ability to use it to its fullest extent. Thank for you posting this review. I find your theory rather interesting. In fact, if you don’t mind, I’d like to quote it on my education website. I’ll send you the details of my current projects by e-mail. I might pick this book up

    I’ll be reading your blog in the future :)

    – Mari

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>