Watercolor on paper, 1 March 2007
Jeff Hawkings is a remarkable researcher and computer designer who invented one of the latest antiquities: the PalmPilot hand-held computer. Only ten years ago everybody had one, although today PalmPilots are well obsolete.
However, the technology developed in the Palm devices is still around; Jeff Hawkings investigated how the human brain works to build the hardware and the software necessary to make the Palm devices recognize the hand-written texts and turn them into strings of bits that computers could handle.
Jeff Hawkings wrote a book (On Intelligence, 2004) explaining how he became to know how human cortex does work. Wanting to develop a software that could read hand written texts, he looked for researchs on how human cortex does really work. For his amazement, he could not find a single work as a reference for what he wanted. Therefore he studied neurophysiology for several years to understand how we think, and then apply his findings to his projects.
One amazing discovery he made is that cortex works on predictions. The regions connected with sensorial inputs interact with memory cells to create an expectation of what can be found and what actions to take. This basic function is found in the cortex of all mammals, whose brains only vary in size, not on how they work.
Jeff Hawkings is the founder and director of Redwood Neuroscience Institute, a center for research of brain theory.
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