Starting a new thread to avoid clutter on the David Schneider Interview discussions.
I haven’t actually read On Intelligence yet myself, but I have some thoughts on the idea of temporal unfolding. As the system is performing motor actions, online learning will be happening through the hierarchical mechanisms which we have been talking about extensively on other threads. Those are rolling up through the hierarchy and forming higher-level concepts (“walking”, “jumping”, etc.)
But the system isn’t just passively observing and learning motor sequences (“chicken or the egg” situation – motor sequences can’t be learned without also generating them). This must mean that another signal is injected into the system to trigger the unfolding of specific actions (something in addition to the FF, distal, and apical connections that are being used for learning). This is the “plan of action” I mentioned in another thread (cell grid mechanisms seem to be a likely candidate for this signal).
When a higher level concept (“walk forward”) activates from this signal, this would generate an apical signal to the next lower layer, predicting all of the lower-level elements in the sequence (“lift left leg”, “extend left leg forward”, “set left leg down”, etc). The first element in the lower-level sequence would need to be activated (I still haven’t worked out a good mechanism for how, but set that problem aside for a moment). This activation would generate a distal signal to the next element in the sequence (which is already predicted apically). The combination of apical and distal would trigger the next activation, which would trigger the next action, and so-on, unfolding the sequence.
An RL signal would also be involved at each level to tune the actions along the way and adjust to randomness. This process would cascade down the hierarchy until the lowest-level motor commands are activated in sequence, moving the body.
There are obviously still some major fuzzy areas left to resolve. Some of the obvious questions: What causes the first element in an unfolding sequence to activate? What ensures the lower level sequence for the current higher-level element has completed before the higher-level moves to the next element? How is timing accomplished (perhaps this answers the previous question)?