[Bmi] The Brain Principles Manifesto (draft)
weng at cse.msu.edu
Sat Feb 21 13:15:22 EST 2015
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----- The Brain Principles Manifesto (draft version 5) ------
The Brain Principles Manifesto
Feb. 21, 2015
Historically, public acceptance of science was slow. For example,
Charles Darwin waited about 20 years (from the 1830s to 1858) to publish
his theory of evolution for fear of public reaction. It took about 20
years (by the 1870s) the scientific community and much of the general
public had accepted evolution as a fact. Of course, the debate on
evolution still goes on today.
Is the public acceptance of science faster in modern days? Not
necessarily so, even though we have now better and faster means to
communicate. The primary reason is still the same but much more severe
--- the remaining open scientific problems are more complex and the
required knowledge to convincingly understand goes beyond any single
For instance, network-like brain computation --- connectionist
computation --- has been long doubted and ignored by industry. Kunihiko
Fukushima introduced Convolutional deep networks by at least 1980.
Weng, Ahuja and Huang published Max-pooling in deep fully automatic
learning networks by 1992. However, Apple, Baidu, Google, Microsoft,
Samsung, and other major related companies did not show considerable
interest till after 2012. That is a delay of about 20 years. The two
techniques above are not very difficult to understand. However, these
two suddenly hot techniques have already been proved obsolete by the
discoveries of more fundamental working principles of the brain.
Industrial and academic interests have been keen on a combination of two
things --- easily understandable but superficial tests and which
companies are involved. However, the newly known brain principles have
told us that the ways to conduct such tests will give only vanishing
gains that do not lead to a realistic zero error rate, regardless how
many more images can be added to the training sets and how long the
Moore’s Law can continue. Do our industry and public need another 20
years? Or more?
Oct. 2011 a highly respected multi-disciplinary professor kindly wrote:
“I tell these students that they can work on brains and do good science,
or work on robots and do good engineering. But if they try to do both
at once, the result will be neither good science nor good engineering.”
How long does it take for the industry and public to accept that that
pessimistic view of the brain was no longer true even then?
The brain principles that have already been discovered would bring
fundamental changes in the way humans live, human countries and
societies are organized, and the way humans treat one another. The
following questions point to some concrete fundamental changes that
benefit all humans. However, conventionally, scientists in natural
sciences do not address politics. Albert Einstein and Norm Chomsky are
The brain of anybody, regardless of his education and experience, is
fundamentally short sighted, in both space and time, determined by the
known brain principles. Prof. Jonathan Haidt documented well such
shortsightedness in his book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are
Divided by Politics and Religion”, although not in terms of brain
In terms of brain computation, the precise circuits in your brain
self-wire beautifully according to your real-time experience (the genome
only regulates) and their various invariance properties for abstraction
also largely depend on experience. Serotonin (e.g., caused by threats),
dopamine (e.g., caused praises) and other neural transmitters quickly
change the way these delicate circuits work but you feel everything
inside the brain is normal. Therefore, you make mistakes but you still
feel normal in the brain. Everybody is like that, including the
politicians in the questions below.
Surprisingly, to understand how the brain works requires sophisticated
automata theory in computer science (J. Weng, Brain as an Emergent
Finite Automaton: A Theory and Three Theorems, IJIS, 2015). This
automata brain model proposes that each brain is an automaton, but also
very different from all traditional symbolic automata because it
programs itself --- emergent. No traditional automata can program
themselves in the sense of Turing Machine but a brain automaton does.
The automata brain model predicted that neural circuits precisely record
the statistics of experience, roughly consistent with neural anatomy
(e.g., Felleman & Van Essen, Cerebral Cortex, 1991). In particular, the
model predicted that “shifting attention between `humans’ and `vehicles’
dramatically changes brain representation of all categories” (J. Gallant
et al. Nature Neuroscience, 2013) and that human attention “can regulate
the activity of their neurons in the medial temporal lobe” (C. Koch et
al. Nature, 2010). The model raised questions to claims that neurons
encode exclusively sensory information like the “place” cells in the
work of 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine instead of a
combination of both place and top-down attention context reported by
Koch et al. and Gallant et al. and theoretically predicted by the
automata brain model.
Unfortunately, the automata brain model implies that all neuroscientists
and neural network researchers are unable to understand the brain of
their studies without a rigorous training in automata theory. For
example, traditional models for nervous systems and neural networks
focus on pattern recognition and do not have the capabilities of a
grounded symbol system (e.g., “rulefully combining and recombining,”
Stevan Harnad, Physica D, 1990). Automata theory deals with such
Understanding brain’s automata would enables us to see answers to a wide
variety of important questions, some of which are raised below. We do
not provide yes/no answers here, only raise questions. The automaton
brain model predicts that there is no absolute right or wrong in any
brain but its environmental experiences wire and rewire the brain.
How can our industry and pubic understand that the door for a great
opportunity that has opened up for them? How can they see the
economical outlooks that this opportunity brings with it?
How should our educational system change to prepare our many bright
minds for the new brain age? Has our government been prompt to
properly respond to this modern call from the nature?
How should our young generation act for to this new opportunity that is
unfolding before their eyes? Is a currently narrowly defined academic
degree sufficient for their career?
Is it consistent with the U.S. people’s interest for the respected Mr.
Barack Obama to have authorized the bombing of ISIS, sanctioned Russia
because of what happened in Ukraine, rejected conversations with North
Korea for what Mr. Kim Jong-un did, increased extra tax on Americans who
create many jobs, and planed to tax Americans’ overseas ventures which
encourages them to drop U.S. Citizenship? Shortsighted?
The same ISIS bombing question goes to the respected Mr. François
Hollande. What is the relationship between the armed attacks on the
weekly Charllie Hebdo and the French ISIS bombing that killed many more
innocent civilians as well as racial discrimination existing in France?
Is it consistent with the Chinese people’s interest for the respected
Mr. Jinping Xi to conduct anti-graft struggle using the Communist Party
rules without the due process of the Chinese legal system and to bicker
about islands with China’s neighbors like Japan, Vietnam, and
Philippines that negatively affected economy and tourists’ safety?
Is it consistent with the Israelis people’s interest for the respected
Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu to take his current approach to Israel’s Arab
How should all government officials take advantage of the new knowledge
about their own brains? Should people in every country require them to
learn brain theory and correct their feel-normal mistakes?
We are from all walks of life and from all regions of the world. At
present, we do not understand the scientific underpinnings of the
material in this Manifesto, just like the public of Darwin’s time.
However, these issues are relevant to the future of our nations and our
lives. We declare to form the Brain Principles Society, in order to
promote human communication and understanding of brain principles and
their implications to human societies so as to improve the quality of
life for all human beings on this planet. There is a lack of society
that regards social sciences as part of brain science and considers
automata theory to be relevant to brain science and social sciences.
However, we are all governed by the same set of brain principles.
---- end -----
Juyang (John) Weng, Professor
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
MSU Cognitive Science Program and MSU Neuroscience Program
428 S Shaw Ln Rm 3115
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824 USA
Email: weng at cse.msu.edu
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