Brain Inspired
BI 090 Chris Eliasmith: Building the Human Brain

Chris and I discuss his Spaun large scale model of the human brain (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network), as detailed in his book How to Build a Brain. We talk about his philosophical approach, how Spaun compares to Randy O’Reilly’s Leabra networks, the Applied Brain Research Chris co-founded, and I have guest questions from Brad Aimone, Steve Potter, and Randy O’Reilly.

Some takeaways:

  • Spaun is an embodied fully functional cognitive architecture with one eye for task instructions and an arm for responses.
  • Chris uses elements from symbolic, connectionist, and dynamical systems approaches in cognitive science.
  • The neural engineering framework (NEF) is how functions get instantiated in spiking neural networks.
  • The semantic pointer architecture (SPA) is how representations are stored and transformed – i.e. the symbolic-like cognitive processing.

Time Points:

0:00 – Intro
2:29 – Sense of awe
6:20 – Large-scale models
9:24 – Descriptive pragmatism
15:43 – Asking better questions
22:48 – Brad Aimone question: Neural engineering framework
29:07 – Engineering to build vs. understand
32:12 – Why is AI world not interested in brains/minds?
37:09 – Steve Potter neuromorphics question
44:51 – Spaun
49:33 – Semantic Pointer Architecture
56:04 – Representations
58:21 – Randy O’Reilly question 1
1:07:33 – Randy O’Reilly question 2
1:10:31 – Spaun vs. Leabra
1:32:43 – How would Chris start over?