Archives for 2008
National Academy of Engineering’s "Grand Challenges for Engineering project is designed to spark public discussion and awareness that engineering is essential to addressing current and emerging societal issues. Meeting the challenges will require the support of the public and policy makers. As we stand about a month before the U.S. presidential election, we hope to inspire an informed conversation about the hurdles of public backing and policy issues that stand in the way of addressing the Grand Challenges for Engineering."
On Oct 6, 2008, they hosted a very interesting event that is available via podcast.
Needless to say, one of the grand challenges is: "Reverse-engineer the brain".
Last Saturday, I spoke at the Singularity Summit.
The highlight of the day was the opening conversation between Vernor Vinge (Sci-Fi Author) and Bob Pisani (CNBC). Other speakers included Intel CTO Justin Rattner, MIT Professors Cynthia Breazeal and Neil Gershenfeld, Chairman and CEO of X-Prize Foundation Peter Diamandis, and, of course, Ray Kurzweil. I also enjoyed the discussion moderated by Glenn Zorpette.
The meeting was beautifully organized and run by Tyler Emerson, Susan Fonseca-Klein, Bruce Klein, Jonas Lamis, Gyale Young, and other volunteers.
An on going debate in neuroscience has been whether the neurons encode information in rate of firing or in the timing of individual firings. This is an extremely important question with respect to cognitive computing.
A study published by Yang Yang, Michael R DeWeese, Gonzalo Otazu, Anthony M Zador in Nature Neuroscience provides support for "spike-timing" hypothesis.
Millisecond-scale differences in neural activity in auditory cortex can drive decisions
Neurons in the auditory cortex can lock to the fine timing of acoustic stimuli with millisecond precision, but it is not known whether this precise spike timing can be used to guide decisions. We used chronically implanted microelectrode pairs to stimulate neurons in the rat auditory cortex directly and found that rats can exploit differences in the timing of cortical activity that are as short as 3 ms to guide decisions.