Ames Director's Colloquium

Tuesday September 17, 2013 .:. 2:00-3:00pm (N201)

The slides of Jeff's presentation are available here (PDF 3.4MB).

Jeff Hawkins / Numenta

Computing Like The Brain:
The Path To Machine Intelligence


Understanding how the brain works and building machines that work on the same principles is one of the greatest quests of our time. In this talk Jeff Hawkins will describe recent advances in neocortical theory, including why the brain uses sparse distributed representations and how the brain makes predictions from high velocity sensory data streams. Mr. Hawkins will demonstrate a product called Grok, that uses a detailed model of neocortical memory to act on machine generated data and how developers can contribute to the development of intelligent machines via the NuPIC open source project (


Jeff Hawkins is an engineer, serial entrepreneur, scientist, inventor, and author. He was a founder of two mobile computing companies, Palm and Handspring, and was 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. In 2002 he founded the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, a scientific institute focused on understanding how the neocortex processes information. The institute is now located at U.C. Berkeley. In 2004 he wrote the book On Intelligence, which describes progress on understanding the neocortex. In 2005 he co-founded Numenta, a startup company building a technology based on neocortical theory. It is his hope that Numenta and the Grok platform will play a catalytic role in the emerging field of machine intelligence. 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.

Open Source Numenta Platform for Intelligent Computing (NuPIC)

Opening blogpost:
OSCON2013 keynote (~10min):
Technology background:
Github repository: website:

US Government RFI solicitations (closed)

DARPA Request for Information (RFI) on Research and Development of a Cortical Processor
IARPA Request for Information: Cortical Computing Primitives and Connectomics

Further reading & watching

Jeff Hawkins:
Interview in The Atlantic (June 19 2013): How to Build a Digital Brain
UC Berkeley talk (May 2013):
Google Tech Talk (Feb 2013):
ISCA2012 talk (June 2012):
More videos: