Patrick and I mostly discuss his path from a technician in the then nascent Jim DiCarlo lab, through his graduate school and two postdoc experiences, and finally landing a faculty position, plus the culture and issues in academia in general. We also cover plenty of science, like the role of eye movements in the study of vision, the neuroscience (and concept of) attention, what Patrick thinks of the deep learning hype, and more.
Brad and I discuss his battle-tested, age-defying cognitive model for how we learn concepts by forming and rearranging clusters, how the model maps onto brain areas, and how he’s using deep learning models to explore how attention and sensory information interact with concept formation. We also discuss the cognitive modeling approach, Marr’s levels of analysis, the term “biological plausibility”, emergence and reduction, and plenty more.
David and I discuss the latest efforts he and his Elemental Cognition team have made to create machines that can understand stories the way humans can and do. The long term vision is to create what David calls “thought partners”, which are virtual assistants that can learn and synthesize a massive amount of information for us when we need that information for whatever project we’re working on. We also discuss the nature of understanding, language, the role of the biological sciences for AI, and more.
Rodrigo and I discuss concept cells and his latest book, NeuroScience Fiction. The book is a whirlwind of many of the big questions in neuroscience, each one framed by of one of Rodrigo’s favorite science fiction films and buttressed by tons of history, literature, and philosophy. We discuss a few of the topics in the book, like AI, identity, free will, consciousness, and immortality, and we keep returning to concept cells and the role of abstraction in human cognition.
In this second part of my conversion with Paul, we continue our discussion about how to understand brains as feedback control mechanisms – controlling our internal state and extending that control into the world – and how Paul thinks the key to understanding intelligence is to trace our evolutionary past through phylogenetic refinement.