I am new here, and my name is Finn Gilling (from Copenhagen, Denmark)
I am impressed by the work of Jeff Hawkins and Numenta, and if I am permitted by staff, I think I can help promote the basic idea of using understanding from neuroscience, and in particular the neocortex, to promote the use of biological intelligence for building intelligent systems.
The subject here is “why the neocortex has layers and columns”: Yes in a broad perspective why?
The brain is a decision machine forced by evolution to always be able to answer the question “what to do now”. To do that, evolution has evolved the ability to use information from information channels separated in time each using different learning processes to maximize the value of the information in the NOW where it is used to make decisions about start/stopping movements.
The different information channels in time are the six different layers in the neocortex:
Now (6), moment (5), present (4), future(3), past (2), doubt (1).
In layer 6, the NOW, the system attends probably when to start/stop achieving a goal, start/stop engaging a target and start/stop moving.
In layer 5, in the moment, the system is timing when the goal is high on precision and the target high on accuracy (habituation) - this is the control layer
In layer 4, in the present, the system receives a continous inflow of sensedata (sensitization) - this is the regulation layer
In layer 3, the future, the system use sense data to predict based on assumptions about “if I do this, then this will happen” (operant conditioning) - this is the modification layer
In layer 2, the past, the system use sense data to predict based on anticipations about “what not to do” (conditioning) - this is the restriction layer
In layer 1, the endless time, the system tries to establish a link between initial doubt (as when htm blocks all 6 neurons in a column), to create qualified doubt by asking questions (the sequence is where, what, which, why, when, how) - this is the query layer…
There is thus good reasons to name the neocortex the decision system in the nervous system, since it decides what moves we are going to perform in the future. Also cells do that, and their “neocortex” is hidden in circuits. In a wider perspective the genetic functions (control, regulation) preserve information processing capabilities across species, the epigenetic functions (modification, restriction) preserves information processing capabilities across generations and finally the biological decision system (including the neocortex) preserves information processing capabilites across the individuals lifetime. You can see my proposed model of the functions in the human decision system in the model illustration here below/to the right. I have written a detailed book about it, and it is amazing how HTM and HDS are very close in concepts and functions, though HTM is at the bit processing level, and HDS is at the human decision level using a behavioral descriptive language. Combining these two languages in the future will give htm an interface to decision makers and in general humans operating in the world. This combination between man and technology we call ADI - automated decision intelligence.
Hope the here from some of you soon!