Monday, December 10, 2012


By my estimation, 2.3 million neurons bests the average progressive by a factor of, oh, about 2.3 million.

...Instead of the tour de force processing of Deep Blue or Watson’s four terabytes of facts of questionable utility, Spaun attempts to play by the same rules as the human brain to figure things out. Instead of the logical elegance of a CPU, Spaun’s computations are performed by 2.3 million simulated neurons configured in networks that resemble some of the brain’s own networks. It was given a series of tasks and performed pretty well, taking a significant step toward the creation of a simulated brain.

Spaun stands for Semantic Pointer Architecture: Unified Network. It was given six different tasks that tested its ability to recognize digits, recall from memory, add numbers and complete patterns. Its cognitive network simulated the prefrontal cortex to handle working memory and the basal ganglia and thalamus to control movements. Like a human, Spaun can view an image and then give a motor response; that is, it is presented images that it sees through a camera and then gives a response by drawing with a robotic arm.

...And its performance was similar to that of a human brain. For example, the simplest task, image recognition, Spaun was shown various numbers and asked to draw what it sees. It got 94 percent of the numbers correct. In a working memory task, however, it didn’t do as well. It was shown a series of random numbers and then asked to draw them in order. Like us with human brains, Spaun found the pattern recognition task easy, the working memory task not quite as easy.

The important thing here is not how well Spaun performed on the tasks – your average computer could find ways to perform much better than Spaun. But what’s important is that, in Spaun’s case, the task computations were carried out solely by the 2.3 million artificial neurons spiking in the way real neurons spike to carry information from one neuron to another. The visual image, for example, was processed hierarchically, with multiple levels of neurons successively extracting more complex information, just as the brain’s visual system does. Similarly, the motor response mimicked the brain’s strategy of combining many simple movements to produce an optimal, single movement while drawing.

Why do I say that this development has the progressive left running scared? Two reasons.

First off, Spaun doesn't think President Obama will pay its mortgage.

And second, unlike progressives, Spaun learns from the past. And all of human history refutes the Left's Statist Utopian delusions, yet they refuse to heed the counsel of the world's greatest philosophers, economists and legal thinkers.

In a battle of wits between Spaun and the average progressive, my bet is on the machine.

Hat tip: BadBlue Tech News.

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