It’s generally agreed machine learning and AI provide neuroscience with tools for analysis and theoretical principles to test in brains, but there is less agreement about what neuroscience can provide AI. Should computer scientists and engineers care about how brains compute, or will it just slow them down, for example? Chris, Sam, and I discuss how neuroscience might contribute to AI moving forward, considering the past and present. This discussion also leads into related topics, like the role of prediction versus understanding, explainable AI, value alignment, the fundamental conundrum that humans specify the ultimate values of the tasks AI will solve, and more. Plus, a question from previous guest Andrew Saxe.
Alison and I discuss her work to accelerate learning and thus improve AI by studying how children learn, as Alan Turing suggested in his famous 1950 paper. The ways children learn are via imitation, by learning abstract causal models, and active learning by implementing a high exploration/exploitation ratio. We also discuss child consciousness, psychedelics, the concept of life history, and lots more.
Dileep and I discuss his theoretical account of how the thalamus and cortex work together to implement visual inference. We talked previously about his Recursive Cortical Network (RCN) approach to visual inference, which is a probabilistic graph model that can solve hard problems like CAPTCHAs, and more recently we talked about using his RCNs with cloned units to account for cognitive maps related to the hippocampus. On this episode, we walk through how RCNs can map onto thalamo-cortical circuits so a given cortical column can signal whether it believes some concept or feature is present in the world, based on bottom-up incoming sensory evidence, top-down attention, and lateral related features. We also briefly compare this bio-RCN version with Randy O’Reilly’s Deep Predictive Learning account of thalamo-cortical circuitry.
Russ and I discuss cognitive ontologies – the “parts” of the mind and their relations – as an ongoing dilemma of how to map onto each other what we know about brains and what we know about minds. We talk about whether we have the right ontology now, how he uses both top-down and data-driven approaches to analyze and refine current ontologies, and how all this has affected his own thinking about minds. We also discuss some of the current meta-science issues and challenges in neuroscience and AI, and Russ answers guest questions from Kendrick Kay and David Poeppel.
Carsen and I discuss how she uses 2-photon calcium imaging data from over 10,000 neurons to understand the information processing of such large neural population activity. We talk about the tools she makes and uses to analyze the data, and the type of high-dimensional neural activity structure they found, which seems to allow efficient and robust information processing. We also talk about how these findings may help build better deep learning networks, and Carsen’s thoughts on how to improve the diversity, inclusivity, and equality in neuroscience research labs.