Jeff Hawkins, the guy behind the Palm Pilot, wrote a book published in 2005: On Intelligence
The title says it all.
I found the book very interesting, because Hawkins’ point of view is very different from that of many brain researchers.
For example, basing his argument on a paper by Vernon Mountcastle, he argues strongly in favor of the view that neocortex cells carry out the same basic algorithm, regardless of their specific function (e.g. regardless of what input neocortex cells are elaborating: tactile or visual or auditory…), given the fact that the neocortex is remarkably similar in appearance and structure.
I am not sure I agree with him, but it is refreshing to have new perspectives on how the brain works.
Hawkin’s central claim is that the brain is not a computation machine but a memory machine
: it does not compute a solution but makes constant predictions about the future by analogy to the past.
Attention, and thinking, is activated when our predictions are violated.
For example, I can walk in my living room to go to the kitchen without thinking about it.
But if a new object has been placed somewhere, say a new ornament on the table, my prediction is violated and my attention is drawn to the error, i.e. the new object.
This makes more sense than the AI computation model, that would require that we list all the properties of all the objects in the room and then that we compute it all… it would take us minutes for us to do what we do in a split second, i.e. noticing something different.
I thought this point of view could be useful to help us think about solution-focused approaches.
According to Hawkins’ model, our thinking gets activated when there is a violation of our expectations based on past memories: basically, when there is a problem.
However, if we help clients think about a “preferred future”, we can engage the same mechanism without falling into the problem solving trap
: clients can form memories of the future (as W.R. Bion would have said) and activate their thinking when the present situation is a mismatch with their preferred future, without necessarily there being a problem in the current situation the client is experiencing!
Any thoughts on that?