Jeff Hawkins : 2009 Plenary Meeting


Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Location: Fisher Conference Center, Arrillaga Alumni Center

"Computing Beyond Turing, How Neocortical Theory Is Shaping the Future of Computing"


Coaxing computers to perform basic acts of perception and robotics, let alone high-level thought, has been difficult. No existing computer can recognize pictures, understand language, or navigate through a cluttered room with anywhere near the facility of a child. Hawkins and his colleagues have developed a model of how the neocortex performs these and other tasks. The theory, called Hierarchical Temporal Memory, explains how the hierarchical structure of the neocortex builds a model of its world and uses this model for inference and prediction. To turn this theory into a useful technology, Hawkins has created a company called Numenta. In this talk Hawkins will describe the theory, its biological basis, and a software platform created by Numenta that allows anyone to apply this theory to a variety of problems.

Part of this theory was described in Hawkins' 2004 book, On Intelligence. Further information can be found at Numenta


Jeff Hawkins is well known as co-founder of two computer companies, Palm and Handspring, and as the architect of many computing products such as the PalmPilot and Treo smartphone. Throughout his life Jeff has also had a deep interest in neuroscience and theories of the neocortex. His interest in the brain led him to create the non-profit Redwood Neuroscience Institute (RNI), a scientific institute focused on understanding how the human neocortex processes information. While at RNI, Hawkins developed a theory of neocortex which appeared in his 2004 book, On Intelligence.

With the team of Dileep George and Donna Dubinsky, Hawkins founded Numenta in 2005 to develop a technology platform derived from this theory. It is his hope that Numenta will play a catalytic role in creating an industry based on this theory and technology.

Jeff Hawkins earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1979. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003.