News.com has an interview with Jeff Hawkins, who has recently authored a book “On Intelligence” about brain research.
If you look at a human brain, you can essentially divide it into two pieces. You have got this big thing on top, which is the cortex, and you have everything else stuck up in the middle. It looks like a little post and that thing in the middle is the old brain. It’s what every other animal has, but only mammals have the cortex.
The cortex is a thin sheet like a dinner napkin, and it’s about as thick as six business cards stacked flat on top of one another, about six millimeters thick. It is important because it was determined many years ago that this is where all intelligence lies. It is the location for language, map, music, art, programming culture–everything that we think about (as) humans. This is where all the things that we think (of) as higher-level thought perception occur. The key to understanding what intelligence is, is in understanding the cortex.
So if I want to build intelligent machines, I’m not going to base them on the old brain. I want to base them on the rational part of the human experience. Fortunately, the cortex is this extremely uniform structure.