My Plan for Building a Brain

Written by Chirag on Sunday, June 14, 2015

I have formulated a Comprehensive Plan 1.0 to get me really deep in the weeds of learning about Artificial Intelligence. I have a very ambitious goal of developing something brain like, even if it’s 100 X 100 Neurons:-).  I am trying to develop the algorithm on my own so I can manipulate it and understand it very easily.  Ultimate would be to build some product with it.  I am very set on creating a product that’s physical and interacts with the physical world.

I will most likely follow the model by Jeff Hawkins HTM algorithms or Cireneikual’s version (blogger).  I am avoiding academic degree programs purposefully to reach my goal because I think they will slow me down.  Also, school tends to take all the fun out of your hobbies.  I have learned overtime (through experience), that can become expert at anything provided they spend enough time on the material.

Before I present my plan to the world.  It’s worth emphasizing why I am doing this.  I started picking up AI as a hobby because I was just plain interested in brains and how intelligence worked.  I left software industry eight years ago (currently am a bond analyst) and I have always wondered why we have not made a meaningfully progress in AI.  I want to contribute in building intelligent machines and not just machines mimicking intelligent behavior.  I think companies like Vicarious and Numenta are at the forefront of creating intelligent machines.  If you follow their trails (books, papers, people) and read Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity is Near (2005), it will become pretty clear the technology based on cortical principles will be the future of Intelligent Machines and it will affect all matters which concern humanity and this universe.

Approach and Plan to Build a Brain:

I am a very slow learner and my approach to learning is tailored to my learning capabilities.  My main advantage is persistence or drive as they call it. Basically, I learn through repetition and in very small chunks. My day job requires a lot of hours and it’s impossible to put in any significant time during business days.  I read brain and AI related to literature during my commute (40 minutes each way) to NYC.  On Sundays, I do the heavy lifting towards my goal.

My day job is some what unrelated.  I have a medium-term plan of someday committing fully to building “Intelligent Machines”. My background is in computer engineering (bachelors) and masters in computational finance. Over the past eight years, I haven’t really done much coding. I don’t consider VBA coding. So it’s been a real struggle to get up and running on Jeff Hawkins’ NuPIC algorithms (it’s all python based).

Here is my current plan/schedule.  Each item in my plan has a purpose to address my weakness.  As of June 14, 2015 (Sunday), this is what I believe will me push me into understanding all that is NuPIC.  I want to code my own version of HTM (Jeff Hawkins) Algorithm as a starting point. After that, I want to run a lot of examples and really get good at using it.

Here is My Weekly Activity Schedule: Apologies will add the links in coming days to below books. Added Thinking Recursively on July 12, 2015 at 3:52pm.

Goal: Build a Brain
Activity When?
Review All Things Learned: This is a critical step for me. I like to keep what I learned in a repeating loop.  So that it becomes a handy tool in my daily abilities of learning more. I was able to significantly improve my engineering GPA through this approach (starting Junior year).Also constant repetition meant that I never had to study for exams. It meant that I had no stress. I liked that feeling. I want to have that and not be overwhelmed by my hobby. I have already created a set of notes/learnings for this week.  Once they become more coherent, I will post them online. Business Day Commute
Read 5 pages per week on Godel, Escher and Bach (GEB).  In this book, I am hoping D. Hofstadter answers the key question.  How can brain chemicals turn into living/thinking system. Why does a brain think it is alive when its subcomponents are not alive.  Modern so called artificial intelligence is mimicking intelligent behavior but it is not intelligent or alive.  I am hoping GEB answers this question for me. Business Day Commute
Read 5 pages of The Future of the Brain. This is a 2014 book.  I am hoping it will give me a sense of where the Neuroscience and AI field is going. Who are the big people in the field and what are their views. Business Day Commute
Read Numenta White Paper 5 pages/week, Take Digital Notes Weekend
Read 5 pages/week on Sparse Distributed Representations by Kanerva, Take Digital Notes.  It has been shown that brains only store few details of the current state of the world.  Jeff Hawkins’ HTM uses Sparse Distributed Representations (SDR) to reflect this attribute.  I want to understand inside/out what SDRs are and how they are used.  Pentti Kanerva has a book on it. So you know I be reading it/coding it and rereading and recoding it. Weekend
Read 5 pages/week on Bayes’ Inference/Theorem Book, by a British Computational Neuroscientist.  You gotta read this!!Berkley Paper on Bayes’ TheoremBayesian Probability Theory, this is python examples straight up with explanations. you know I am gonna read this!Examples Take Digital Notes. I want to really get good understanding and applying Bayes’ Inference, Maximum Likelihood Estimators and Markov Chains.  There is a lot of evidence that humans are Bayes’ rule observers. Learned this from the book below. Weekend
Read Probabilistic Models Of the Brain Weekend
Practice python coding at least one hour or Read Python Data Science book week or weekend. Use Github, Look at AI examples.  Right now I am using codeacademyand am reading Datascience from Scratch

Read Thinking Recursively, 5 pages/week by Eric S. Roberts

Weekend/Business Day
Update The Blog.  I want to do this step because I want to attract like minded people and get a useful dialogue going. You know get the crowd sourcing going a bit. Set of a global meme on “building a brain”, in a crowd sourced way. Weekend