πŸ“– A review of A thousand brains by Jeff Hawkins

Brains and nervous systems are the most exciting and truly weird topics to discover.

They can be approached through neuroscience, ethology, psychology, cognitive science, arts, brain-inspired computing, and bio-inspired robotics.

Or, even in some other ways. Easy, because our own brain and CNS is involved in all our perception and acquisition of knowledge. It is involved in everything we are and do. It is us, and it is bodily (somatic) all the way down. This is called embodiment.

If the 20th century has seen the emergence of non-classical theory in physics, it has also seen the beginnings of non-classical theory in, ultimately, biology. Biology as the basis and substrate of the majority of intelligent behavior we are observing, anywhere.

Anyway, bla bla. Just finished reading β€œA thousand brains” by Jeff Hawkins, who you might know from Numenta, their papers, or from the earlier book β€œA new kind of intelligence”, which I haven’t read.

The work presented and discussed in the book is about the human neocortex, its computational mechanics, and its principles of organization.

What the brain does, in general, is to create models of the world, which it then uses to make predictions and find ways (sequences of actions) to get to goals (usually related to survival, in the broad sense of the complicated life’s of contemporary humans). This is called inverting a model.

In the book, the idea that these internal models don’t come in singular, but rather in a massively large bundle, a huge flock of models, is expounded and illustrated in clear and fun prose, including some pictures.

One of the weirdest things about the brain is the modelling decomposition. Sorry. I just love that word so much.

What is decomposition? I don’t mean the degenerative one. It is meant in the mathematical sense of decomposing something complex into a set of simpler things, together with an explanation of their interactions, so that the overall story will yield the original phenomenon.

Most of us will have an acquired and consciously accessible decomposition of the world in our heads, called a mindset. Usually that’s objects, persons, domains; interactions come via force and gravity, light, sound and touch, inner focus and sociality, etc;

So the cool thing that the brain does, is a) to decompose the world into a soup of models, and b), that this decomposition is mostly and unconsciously completely different and utterly alien to our own introspective thinking. It just doesn’t align. No, it doesn’t. The objects of conscious introspective thought are just the tip of the iceberg, of all unconscious mental and neural activity, not available to introspection.

One of the reasons that this is so is somatics, properties of a physical body that needs to compute in a physical universe, governed by energy equations, metabolics, and distribution networks. Limitation as a resource. Work that.

The story of the relationship between the subjective introspection experience of feeling and living, and objective neural mechanics is one of the most pressing issues in science communication.

Why? Because understanding our own behavior and decision mechanics is essential for our civilization to survive the 21st century. Period.

Hawkins’ book throws a lot of stepping stones out into our path through a foggy toxic lava swamp. Highly appreciated and recommended.

Go check on book home

Posted originally on dynatropes – mission log from climbing mount improbable. where you at?

πŸ› the Special (Robot) Pet!

the Special (Robot) Pet!

What I love about Flatcat is that she reacts always differently to touch and her Environment! The funny little Sounds she made and her extremly soft feeling. In my Opinion she comes pretty close to a Bio Pet but is one of a kind, and not everyone owns a Flatcat so to me she is very Special πŸ™‚ Some don’t like how Flatcat looks like or that she is Creepy! I think it is a lot more important what is on the inside, just like with humans, where it is more Important how you are than how you look like. πŸ˜‰ Please watch that Video

Don’t be afraid of an Special (Robot)Pet

Thank you so much πŸ™‚

πŸ› the friendliest robot in the world, pt1

We have built the friendliest robot in the world, and we need your support to make more of them.

In all the craze and frenzy, take a minute just for fun and google “friendliest robot in the world”. Don’t know what you will be seeing, but for me the results are remarkable, both in gem and dire. Let’s review this. What got me to this, is that I think with flatcat we have created

1/ the friendliest robot on the planet (frop)

It might be creepy to some but it is just friendly nonetheless, no matter. To celebrate, let’s come up with an appropriate retronym for flatcat, for example

2/ flatcat, friendliest live adaptive technology cuddly auto telic

Either way I needed to research existing claims in direction of “friendliest robot”. And what I get is essentially this: various lists of “top 12” and “most advanced” hard-shell social or humanoid robots exempt the revered Paro; direct references to Blue, Pepper, and Kuri; and one IEEEspectrum article.

What is friendliness and affection without touch as a mode of communication? From all I can see, none of these robots is able to actually touch a human person. If they are, no one wants to be touched by them. So they might be “able” to touch a human but that might not feel so good for the human. flatcat communicates with people only by touch, nothing else.

What caught my eye on the other hand immediately is Gakutensoku, 學倩則, which is Japanese for “learning from the laws of nature” or when taken as Chinese through deepl.com, “Learning the Rules of Heaven”. Aha πŸ™‚

3/ Gakutensoku

Gakutensoku was a very early robot design that considered friendliness on a fundamental level, done by biologist Makoto Nishimura, who was motivated by his shock from seeing Karel Capek’s theater play “Rossum’s Universal Robots”. Gakutensoku appears to have been Japan’s first functional robot ever, as a side effect.

The robot he wanted to build would celebrate nature and humanity, and rather than a slave, it would be a friend, and even an inspirational model, to people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gakutensoku

To summarize these results, friendly robots are few because somehow no one is incentivized to make them. If they are made, friendly companionship is somewhat misunderstood through the severe disconnection of mainstream engineering from simple facts of human psychology. And, there is a very early precedent, which is coming from a clearly bio-inspired thinking.

For us, friendly robots are just the answer, and we do think that friendly adaptive technology makes a difference for people now, and will do so even more down the road if they are wild and friendly. To continue this mission, we need your support and are looking for team members and funding. Give us a shout, spread the word!

Learning the rules of heaven.

Sources

πŸ› flatcat shipping started πŸš€

we

just

shipped πŸ›« ♻️

the first 3️⃣ flatcats

πŸ› πŸ› πŸ›

ever

mega happy having shipped first πŸ›πŸ›πŸ› flatcat robots

most startups are in software

most startups never ship

we are a ecologically-minded two-tech-founders full-stack hardware-software AI-robotics company 100%-founder-owned and calling from #Berlin

Holler If Ya Hear Me β™»

Above all, infinite thanks to everyone who has so greatly supported us in this project. without you, this would not have been possible.

All our Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers, @qbernetik @o2 @__tosh wendelin weingartner, @zzkt @foam @hiaz @juliarehling, @evanackerman, @sansculotte, arglaaa, heike nehl, Andrew Liszewski, the berthold estate, karen ellmer, elle janssen, richard lem, marek claassen, tbc and shout out if we missed you

πŸ› flatcat listed finalist at ICSR21 robot design competition

Very pleased to announce that flatcat has been selected as a finalist for the Robot Design Competition during ICSR 2021 – International Conference on Social Robotics, 10-13 November 2021, Singapore, https://colips.org/conferences/icsr2021/wp/competition/

Update – List of finalists for robot design competition at International Conference on Social Robotics 2021 has been posted with flatcat on there πŸ›

Competition

🧠 nobel price proprioception

1/ nobel price 2021 in physiology or medicine was awarded to work on how heat, cold and touch can initiate signals in the nervous system (David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, 1/n) https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2021/press-release/

2/ one half of the price is going to elucidating the transduction of mechanical forces into nervous impulses.

3/ turns out these touch receptors (the Piezo1 and Piezo2 mechanosensitive ion channel proteins) are key ingredients in the regulation of many internal functions of the body (urination, respiration, blood pressure, skeletal remodeling), and

πŸ₯

they form the basis of proprioception

4/ touch and proprioception are a fundamental perception channel. they are fundamental because they are old in evolutionary terms (phylogenetically) and many younger channels are bootstrapped on top of them (grounding).

5/ would you think that a device that lets you learn about proprioception is useful to increase fun, self-awareness, or well-being?

DM for pre-order

✨ jetpack updates 13

πŸ› flatcat

Important update regarding shipping

tl;dr Shipping has to be delayed by at least one month.

While we are busy all week pushing things ahead, we have come to run behind our planned schedule. There is two main reasons for this. The first one is big changes in both our personal lifes that require urgent attention. The second one is that we are beginning to feel the accumulated sum of small friction losses in sourcing as well as more administrative outside interactions.

Thus we have to update the timeline and push back the expected date for beginning to ship by one month to end of October 2021.

We do have four major tickets open before we can do that, which are assembly, furs, software updates, and packaging. Right now we are actively working on the first three of them. Packaging is still in the back row because we first need the set of shipped items to consolidate before it makes sense to design a packaging.

assembly




fur

flatcat UI

Here’s a first screenshot of how the update and configuration app could look like. Development is done in collaboration with Richard of mr. hide.

πŸ‘˜ cognition wear

All three base colors for the jetpack sweater successfully prototyped and ready to be made in batch and brought to the street.

Campaign duration extended to end on October 11, 2021 11:59pm PDT

Delivery option pick-up-at-lab which has been requested cannot be added to claimed perks – please pledge for delivery to Germany and we will refund you when you pick up your items.

Thanks for looking, jet pack