Friday, 4 May 2018
SPEAKER: Mike Paulin, Department of Zoology
TITLE: Energy, Information and the Evolution of Neural Computation
WHERE: Room G34, Owheo Building
WHEN:1:00 pm, Friday 4 May
Animals evolved more than 580 million years ago, but nervous systems did not evolve until sometime after 560 million years ago. The design of modern nervous systems was essentially complete before 500 million years ago. It is possible to tell a story about what happened which is not only fairly interesting but consistent with the evidence from fossils, genes, modern nervous systems and modern animals without nervous systems. The keystone that holds the story together is that nervous systems are not about information processing per se but about balancing the energy cost of information against the energy cost of ignorance. From this it is possible to derive mathematical models that tell us some things about nervous systems that we already knew, some non-trivial things that nobody knew but that we have subsequently confirmed by experiments, and some things that have yet not been tested but are fairly interesting, and important if true. I'll discuss implications for modeling cognition in big brains such as ours. If this story is true, or even if it is not, it may provide a new framework for AI with the potential to supersede the current generation of adaptive function approximators posing as brain-like machines.