Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision
(CS 528)

A New Theory of Neocortex and its Implications for Machine Intelligence

Jeff Hawkins
Feburary 28, 2005, 4:15PM
TCSeq 200


The human neocortex is responsible for almost all high level thought, including vision, audition, language, and motor planning. The regions of the neocortex are organized in a hierarchy, where different regions of the hierarchy implement the same basic algorithm. In the past two years significant progress has been made in understanding exactly how the neocortex works and how the hierarchy leads to human thought and behavior. This knowledge suggests a new approach to solving long standing problems in perception, robotics, and in building intelligent machines. In this talk Jeff Hawkins will explain this theory and explore its implications for the future of AI. Details of the theory are published in a new book titled "On Intelligence" (

About the Speaker

Jeff Hawkins is the Executive Director and Chairman of the Redwood Neuroscience Institute.

He is the architect of many computer products including the PalmPilot, Visor, and Treo families of handheld computers and communicators. He co-founded Palm Computing and Handspring Inc., and is currently serving as Chief Technology Officer at PalmOne.

Mr. Hawkins earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from Cornell University. Around 1980 he dedicated his career to understanding how our brains perform high-level cognitive tasks. After pursuing his ambition via an academic path he concluded that the time was not right for his theoretical approach to understanding the brain, and he returned to industry with the intent of resuming his goal some years later.

In 2002, after successful positions with Grid Systems, Palm Computing and Handspring Inc., Hawkins created the Redwood Neuroscience Institute as a place where research into cognitive theory could flourish.

His theories on the inner workings of the brain are now bearing fruit with the upcoming release of his groundbreaking new book On Intelligence, published by Henry Holt and Company. The book provides a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand theory describing what intelligence is and how our brains create it.

In addition to his positions at RNI and PalmOne, Mr. Hawkins is a member of the scientific board of directors at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, one of the world's leading biological research laboratories. Hawkins was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003.


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