"A Thousand Brains" - 2 mins book review

The Thousand Brain theory explains a new concept of how the brain works. Here is a great and compact explanation of the theory from Numenta.

Our new brain

Two things were striking for me. First of all, we don’t have a thousand models of different objects but rather a thousand models of the same object. After I read it, it just makes so much sense. When we touch glass, how do we know that it is not a tube? Our brain is searching, ranks results, and returning the best estimate. The second thing that blows my mind is that actually, our brain is always predicting the future. You are getting surprised because your prediction doesn’t match what you see. It would be so hard for the brain to process real-time information. Knowing your environment, you pretty much can guess what to expect to see and feel when you “turn around.” This is brilliant! Your neocortex is a betting machine, a search and ranking model.

Life & Death

Another insight is that the only reason why we age and die is our genes want to multiply and evolve. After we have had offspring, our life loses meaning from a gene’s point of view.


In the second part of the book, the author talks about the future of AI, robotics, and consciousness. Regarding AI, I found it interesting that the author believes that GI (General Intelligence) is the future of AI. GI, unlike AI, is not meant to be trained for a specific purpose but should be able to learn. And new learning in how the neocortex works should help to build it. He doesn’t think that AI/GI is a threat to people since it is a missing build in the “mission”. For humans, it is the amygdala (a.k.a. Lizard Brain) that drives our purpose to breed and survive.

The author ideates about the human view on turning off conscious robots. Since robots don’t have humans’ need to reproduce, they will not think about turning off as something bad, and they will not care. And, if you think about it, every time you go to sleep you are turning off, so isn’t it the same? Generally speaking, people are what they are because of our unique memory, not just consciousness. If you remove your memory from what you were doing yesterday, would it be the same as wiping robot memory?

If you forget something, has it happened?

Rise of the Machines

Finally, he is very critical of the idea that uploading oneself into the cloud is the solution for eternal life. You are not uploading yourself; you are splitting yourself into two parts, and each will have its future. After your copy is uploaded, your biological body will not die and the digital copy can create as many clones as it wishes.


Reading this book was as exciting as watching Love Death + Robots. Knowing how your brain works are thrilling. And the cherry on the cake is that the author has a very interesting view of the future of AI.

A Thousand Brains

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