"E" Machine Learning Inc

Introduction:

One of the good source of inspiration to design a neural network is to study how nature built the human neocortex. The neocortex is about 30cm x 30cm if it was to be unfolded in a flat surface. 2.5mm thick. Nature apparently folded the cortex into many circumvolutions so that it fits inside the skull. Six layers could be observed in the cortex, with one layer containing only communication lines and no neurons.


When looking at the neocortex, its structure appears to be the same everywhere, whether in the language area, the memory, the motor control, or any of the seven senses of the humans. Being the same everywhere is probably the simplest way nature found of increasing our far ancestors capabilities. This has a huge implications. Being identical everywhere means that nature found an universal algorithm good for all the senses, including memory and motor control. One of the objectives of ‘E’ is to find different types of central algorithm able to do all the things human are able to do with its neocortex.

It is believed that some other brain structures are important for learning. The hypothalamus for example might be where delay lines are created for temporal events. The hypothalamus is also essential to long term memory.


Differences between the most popular neural network research and what the nature was able to create:

  • Temporality: sensory inputs are temporal signals, they change continuously. Vision changes all the time and the neocortex keep a stable representation of what is in a scene. Touch is also temporal; our hands have to move over a surface to detect its texture. Auditory is also obviously temporal. Memory as well; we often have to start a story from the start and cannot start in the middle. The next song in an album is expected after the current one ends. The fact that we cannot have two thoughts at the same time is also representative of the fact that all the brain is used all the time and thoughts come in sequences.
  • The brain is also always learning, memorizing and forgetting. There isn't a ‘learning phase’ separated from the ‘replaying’ of learned patterns. Each time we recall a story, the recall changes the recorded memory. That is why new treatments for PTSD involves a recall of traumatic memories along with a pill preventing memorization. It is also why every time we tell a story, it is slightly different and after several iterations, we could believe the latest version as the accurate one. We could tell ourselves stories and believe them.