Sail's Pedagogy

Sail's posts about her class, classes she is taking, and education.

Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains

on November 6, 2011

Neuroscience meets bayesian inferences. Brains exist solely to control movement. Daniel Wolpert and his team are studying why, looking to understand the computations underlying the brain’s sensorimotor control of the body.

As he says, “I believe that to understand movement is to understand the whole brain. And therefore it’s important to remember when you are studying memory, cognition, sensory processing, they’re there for a reason, and that reason is action.” Movement is the only way we have of interacting with the world, whether foraging for food or attracting a waiter’s attention. Indeed, all communication, including speech, sign language, gestures and writing, is mediated via the motor system. Taking this viewpoint, and using computational and robotic techniques as well as virtual reality systems, Wolpert and his team research the purpose of the human brain and the way it determines future actions.

In a new book The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive, Brian Christian states:

“Indeed, some see the history of AI as a dehumanizing narrative; I see it as much the reverse. We build these things in our own image, leveraging all the understanding of ourselves we have, and then we get to see where they fall short. That gap always has something new to teach us about who we are.”

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