New project aims to 'reverse-engineer' the brain

The goal is to make computers learn the way humans do

Teaching computers to learn the way we do is widely considered an important step toward better artificial intelligence, but it's hard to achieve without a good understanding of how we think. With that premise in mind, a new $US12 million effort launched on Wednesday with aims to "reverse-engineer" the human brain.

Led by Tai Sing Lee, a professor in Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Science Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), the five-year project seeks to unlock the secrets of neural circuitry and the brain's learning methods. Ultimately, the goal is to improve neural networks, the computational models often used for AI in applications including self-driving cars, automated trading, and facial and speech recognition.

"Today's neural nets use algorithms that were essentially developed in the early 1980s," Lee said. "Powerful as they are, they still aren't nearly as efficient or powerful as those used by the human brain."

A computer might need to be shown thousands of labeled examples in order to learn to recognize an object, for example, while a human would require only a handful.

Trying to figure out why that's so will use a technique called two-photon calcium imaging microscopy. Researchers will record the signaling of tens of thousands of individual neurons in mice as they process visual information.

"By incorporating molecular sensors to monitor neural activity in combination with sophisticated optical methods, it is now possible to simultaneously track the neural dynamics of most, if not all, of the neurons within a brain region," said team member Sandra Kuhlman, assistant professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon and the CNBC.

A massive data set will result, offering a detailed picture of how neurons in one region of the visual cortex behave, she added.

The project is funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) through its Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) research program, which is working to advance President Obama's BRAIN Initiative.

The CMU-led team will collaborate with other related projects and make multiple vast databases publicly available for research groups all over the world.

"The hope is that this knowledge will lead to the development of a new generation of machine-learning algorithms that will allow AI machines to learn without supervision and from a few examples, which are hallmarks of human intelligence," Lee said.

Another IARPA-funded project launched recently at Harvard shares a similar goal.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Putting experience design and strategy in the spotlight

​A few years ago, there was lots of chatter about the elusive UX unicorn; a mythical person capable of delivering everything from research to design to development. It became an obsession for the industry, sparking debate about whether this was the metaphor for how unreasonable our expectations of designers had become, while some felt it was what all designers should be aspiring to.

Tracy Brown

Experience design strategy director, DT

Making sense of artificial intelligence

When new trends and technologies burst onto the marketing scene, there’s always a frantic effort to either keep up or provide guidance, especially when serious amounts of money are involved. It happened with social media, it happened with personalisation and big data, and it’s happening now with artificial intelligence.

Phil Whitehouse

Asia-Pacific innovation lead, DigitasLB

4 key findings on the state of B2B marketing

The ​2016 B2B Marketing Outlook Report​ was recently published by Green Hat in conjunction with ADMA for the sixth consecutive year. It highlights the most significant trends from 2015 and shows B2B marketers what’s in store for the year ahead.

Andrew Haussegger

Co-founder and CEO, Green Hat

Martech will definitely make everything better especially when it comes to marketing and sales. Any business not comfortable with it shou...

TapAnalytics

Marketo’s CEO talks martech industry consolidation and his enterprise customer ambitions

Read more

You can also try this leads to revenue calculator tool (it's free): https://www.strategic-ic.co.uk...

Fes Askari

​The dangers of misaligning your marketing budget with business goals

Read more

“We wanted to provide was a way for a customer to have a seamless experience as they went across channels,” Marrocco added. “So if your c...

Sarah

​Telstra’s mission to match the offline experience with online customer service

Read more

You have the right to know what happened that made AI possible, after all these years.I discovered and patented statistics on unstructure...

Ilya Geller

Making sense artificial intelligence - Food for thought - CMO Australia

Read more

I hope this trickles down to job opportunities and more analytics based careers on the government.

Ale Xandra

Australian Open details data analytics improvements driving digital fan engagement

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in