THEORY OF THE
BY AIDAN WILSON
To understand the human brain, you have to ultimately understand what it is able to create. The human brain allows us to understand the world and our place in it, which gives us consciousness. Consciousness is one of the most questioned and least understood phenomenon known to man. It has been one of the main focal points of religion, philosophy, and more recently science. Consciousness is defined as being the quality or state of being aware, especially of something within oneself. This definition seems to simplify the idea of consciousness, but it only brings up more questions like,” what does it mean do be self aware?”.
The state of being aware is completely subjective, meaning you will never be able to fully describe your existence in an objective way. This problem of not being able to describe what your awareness is, is what makes creating intelligent machines extremely difficult if you are looking in one place. When companies like Google, AMD, and Intel attempt to create intelligence, they focus on replicating the processes of the cortex using logical coding. The problem with coding the cortex is that no one experiences reality in a completely logical way. This is where the limbic system comes in. The state of being aware is a combination of both the cortex and the limbic system; It a combination of logic and emotion.
The cortex is a very complex machine. It contains over 16 billion neurons with over 100 billion connections. The cortex is also the outermost region of the brain where information is processed and where all your motor commands originate. The cortex contains different regions responsible for different tasks, these different regions are called lobes. The cortex contains four lobes the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the Occipital lobe. The frontal lobe is known to control important cognitive skills such as language and problem solving; basically the control panel of our personality and our ability to communicate.
The parietal lobe plays a Crucial role in the cortex, it has many responsibilities and has to be able to process sensory very quickly. The parietal lobe is where information such as taste, temperature and touch are processed. If the Parietal lobes was damaged you would not be able to to feel sensations. The temporal lobe is responsible for processing auditory information from the ears, then processes this information into recognizable speech and words. The Occipital lobe is the visual processing center of the mammalian brain. There are different regions in the occipital lobes that are specialized for different visual tasks such as spatial processing, color differentiation, and motion perception.
The cortex is only able to be fully utilized when the limbic system allows it to be. The brain’s newest parts are toward the top and the older ones are toward the bottom, because of this the cortex is the newest and least developed part of the brain compared to other parts of the brain. The limbic system is the key to artificial intelligence because it is the oldest region of the brain and the most developed region that, is associated with interpreting the outside world as well as being the immediate responder to unexpected events.
The limbic system is a region of the brain made of four basic parts the Thalamus, the Hippocampus, the Amygdala, and the Hypothalamus. Thalamus is a relay station for all your senses not including smell. The thalamus sends sensory inputs to their specified areas in the cortex. The thalamus is included in the limbic system because your senses are extremely important to emotional regulation. The hippocampus consists of two “horns” that curve back from the amygdala. This area is very important in converting short term memory to long-term memory. If the hippocampus is damaged, a person cannot build new memories, but they still have their old memories. Everything that they would experience would be new. A great example of this is the movie “50 First Dates”, where Lucy is continually living one day over and over.
The short term memories are stored in the hippocampus and if the memory is important, the hippocampus will send the memory up to the cortex for long term storage. The amygdalas are two masses of neurons on either side of the thalamus at the lower end of the hippocampus. When they are stimulated, the response is aggression. If the amygdalas are removed, animals become very tame and no longer respond to things that would have caused rage before. But there is more to the amygdalas than just anger. When the amygdalas are removed, animals also become passive to stimuli that would have otherwise have caused fear and even sexual responses.The hypothalamus is one of the busiest parts of the brain, and is mainly concerned with homeostasis; An example of this would be regulating body temperature. All of these pieces contribute to our consciousness in so many ways.
The priority of information in the brain also shows the importance of the limbic system. Every piece of information, not including smell, passes directly through the limbic system. If the information received does not elicit an emotional response, the information will be passed to the appropriate region of the cortex. The brain makes it easier to have an emotional response to an event than to have a logical one, this is called the orienting reflex. The limbic system also plays a crucial role in the formation of new memories and without the ability to create new memories it would cripple the way you are able to experience reality.
Today artificial intelligence is be created with programs and algorithms that mimic parts of the cortex and certain human behaviors, but can you call a machine that mimics human behaviours based off the cortex intelligent. Intelligence is infinitely complex and to some extent can never be fully understood. intelligence can be created if the limbic system is included. The argument that the cortex in solely responsible for our awareness is entirely wrong. The truth is that our awareness in a mixture of the cortex and the limbic system. The limbic system is often overlooked because it plays a supporting role to the cortex. The supporting role that the limbic system plays is an incredibly crucial one. The brain is organized by oldest to newest , the oldest being the brainstem to the newest being the cortex. Based off this fact we can assume that the limbic system has existed longer that the cortex has; the limbic system has had a longer time to evolve. The limbic system is the region of the brain that first receives the incoming data form the outside world it is also essential in creating memories, emotional reactions, and instinctual reactions.
The emotional aspect of our brain has existed for a much longer time that the cortex meaning it has a larger role in our awareness then we might think. Before the cortex, all behaviour was emotional or instinctual, today you can see how we might have acted millions of years ago by analyzing the behavior of animals. Because the limbic system is the first place that data is sent, every immediate action is inspired by the impulses of the limbic system. For example, if a you heard a loud sound you immediately look for the cause of that sound, this is called the orienting reflex. Dr Jordan Peterson describes the orienting reflex in his book Maps of meaning by saying,“The “limbic unit” generates the orienting reflex, among its other tasks. It is the orienting reflex, which manifests itself in emotion, thought and behavior, that is at the core of the fundamental human response to the novel or unknown.
This reflex takes a biologically-determined course, ancient in nature, primordial as hunger or thirst, basic as sexuality, extant similarly in the animal kingdom, far down the chain of organic being. The orienting reflex is the general instinctual reaction to the strange category of all occurrences which have not yet been categorized – is response to the unexpected, novel or unknown ”(Peterson 52). This quote describes the process of discovering the unknown. The limbic system is responsible for the discovery of the unknown while the cortex is responsible of the analysis of it. The ability to acknowledge the unknown is the first step to consciousness, the next step would be the ability to remember the unknown.
The limbic system is also responsible for the formation of new memories, without this ability to create new memories the ability to learn would be lost. The ability to learn allows us to gain consciousness. Jordan Peterson describes the importance of memory in our awareness when he said, “Emergence of the unexpected constitutes evidence for the incomplete nature of the story currently guiding such behavior – comprises evidence for error at the level of working description of current state, representation of desired future state, or conception of the means to transform the former into the latter.
Appearance of the unknown motivates curious, hopeful exploratory behavior, regulated by fear, as means to update the memory-predicated working model of reality”(53). This Quote describes how memory allows us to compare the known world to the unknown world and create a new model of reality. For example when a dog performs a particular action and is punished, the dog first looks for the source of the pain that was inflicted on him. After the dog finds the source he remembers this event, the event might happen a couple of times before the dog learns not to perform the action that results in his punishment. The limbic system performs two tasks essential to consciousness it acknowledges and remembers, without these two limbic functions we would not be aware. The fact that the limbic system is so crucial to our intelligence shows how crucial it is for artificial intelligence.
The limbic system is the place where consciousness was born. Jordan Peterson describes the roles of the limbic system as well as the reaction,”When nothing is going wrong, the cortical systems expressly responsible for the organization and implementation of goal-directed behavior remain firmly in control. When cortically-generated plans and fantasies go up in smoke, however, this control vanishes. The comparatively ancient “limbic” hippocampal and amygdalic systems leap into action, modifying affect, interpretation, and behavior. The hippocampus appears particularly specialized for comparing the (interpreted) reality of the present, as it manifests itself in the subjective sphere, with the fantasies of the ideal future constructed by the pre-motor unit (acting in turn as the higher-order mediator – the king, so to speak – of all the specialized subsystems that compose the more fundamental or primary components of the brain).
These desire-driven fantasies might be regarded as motivated hypotheses about the relatively likelihood of events produced in the course of ongoing goal-directed activity.”(54) this quote describes the way the limbic system performs when data is received. The limbic system is in control of the creating memories and giving motivation to complete tasks. The memory aspect allows the conscious person to compare the past to the present. This comparison between the past to the present allows us to learn. The motivation to complete tasks pushes the conscious person to learn and adapt, which encourages survival. The limbic system is more focused on survival and reactions to unknown events than the processing of information. Because of the limbic system acting the way it does in our species, it allowed us to slowly develop other parts of our brains.
The cortex is required but the first step to creating artificial intelligence is to copy the developmental pattern of the brain. The brain has evolved from the brainstem to the cortex, and each new region of the brain has its own responsibilities and characteristics . The brain could be broken up into three main parts: first ,the brain stem, second, the limbic system, and third, the cortex. The closer any part of the brain is to the brainstem, the more simplistic the task. The brainstem is focused on the internal regulation of bodily functions, or homeostasis. The limbic system is focused on survival and the cortex is focused on learning and analyzing the past.
Although many people believe that the foundation of artificial intelligence lies in the cortex, this is incorrect. The foundation of our intelligence is the limbic system, it’s the key to creating intelligent machines. The limbic system is the key and hardware is the only way that is can be created. Without the limbic system in an “intelligent” machine it is not true artificial intelligence. Today solomon technologies is creating artificial intelligence by developing a functioning replication of the brain in a computer die or chip. The main idea is that an accurate duplication of human limbic system in a computer die is the key to Artificial Intelligence. The chip will be built in two stages based on the development of the human brain form the limbic system to the cortex.