[Comp-neuro] The sniffing brain - and free will

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Tue Aug 26 07:32:01 CEST 2008


On Friday 15 August 2008, james bower wrote:
> > The question here is related to the first one: Is there a way in
> > computational neuroscience to verify any of these theories of
> > learning? 
>
> This, of course, is exactly the 'top down' kind of question that
> continues to worry me.  Of course, there is an enormous amount of
> work done in learning mechanisms in neurobiology.  It is a huge
> literature at all levels of scale.  There are also abundant examples
> of the influence of top down theories on brain science -- the one I
> personally have to deal with being the Marr/Albus theory of
> cerebellar learning -- which has produced an entire industry of
> neurobiologists intent on proving the idea to be correct -- even in
> the face of abundant evidence (even their own) to the contrary).

This top down question 'worries' me as well. I notice that it's because 
the people who are attempting to solve the problem from the top-down 
direction are trying to put it to a particular use, whether it's 
optical character recognition, the artificial general intelligence 
community, semantic meaning that's all the buzz these days, and so on. 
Should we become more honest with the inputs and outputs that we're 
taking here, and locating the groundtruth in our systems, then I bet it 
becomes clear that trying to do "natural language processing" from 
statistical inferences doesn't get us as much hard science as the brain 
could provide.

Lurking,
- Bryan
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