Brain Damage, Idiot Savants, and Neural Networks

It’s been well-known for a long time that every now and then, someone who suffers a serious brain injury to the left hemisphere can lose much cognitive ability but gain superhuman powers in some areas. For example, a person can gain incredible artistic or musical abilities, but not be able to function in society.

There’s speculation that brain damage forces sensory inputs to take alternate, new pathways though the brain, exposing near-miraculous abilities that are latent within everyone. Put another way, we all have incredible talents that never come to the surface because of the way in which our brains are wired.

Some researchers actually experimented by applying a powerful magnetic field to the brains of normal people. In some cases, the people gained significant improvement in things like verbal memory and drawing! The changes were only temporary. I’m not quite sure I’d want a researcher applying a powerful magnetic field to my brain (or any other part of my body for that matter).

I think this phenomenon is related to computer science neural network dropout. In NN dropout, randomly-selected processing nodes are turned on and off, and in many situations the NN performs much better than the same NN without dropout. Again, the speculation is that dropout forces the NN to find alternate pathways.

Weird. We’re at the very beginning of a new era of artificial intelligence. Currently, NNs can be constructed with perhaps tens of thousands of artificial neurons. When computer hardware expands to be able to handle millions or billions of artificial neurons, AI has unlimited potential — maybe even the ability to surpass humans.

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3 Responses to Brain Damage, Idiot Savants, and Neural Networks

  1. Pingback: Beyin Hasarları, Aptal Savantlar ve Sinir Ağları – DEVHUNTER

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