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Palm Founders Start New AI Company

Will our next generation Treo be the most intelligent mobile computing device in the world? 

That's the question that I have been asking myself over the last couple of months following Jeff Hawkins' book "On Intelligence" (which among others won a Wired Rave Award) and a January interview at EETimes where he stated that he was pursuing the "next big thing [] machines that work like brains" to deliver "a whole new computing paradigm" - something that "will be right up there with the invention of the digital computer and electricity" that "will transform our lives in a major way".

Now it appears that things are progressing from theory to practice as Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinski, Palm Computing's and Handspring's original founders, last Thursday announced that they have founded a new company called Numenta, which will employ what it claims is a new type of memory architecture modeled after the mammalian cortex that can solve problems in pattern recognition and machine learning.

Hawkins states that "We have the opportunity to build intelligent memory systems to solve difficult problems in computer science and artificial intelligence for which no other known solutions exist, such as general machine vision, language understanding, and robotics."  At the same time, lest we worry about his future direct contributions to the development of our Treo he also mentions that his active role as CTO for palmOne is unchanged as "I remain committed to the ongoing success of palmOne and appreciate palmOne's flexibility in allowing me to simultaneously pursue my other passion."

It was also clear from the previous EETimes interview that Hawkins' passion is equally shared between Numenta and palmOne as a primary focus of this 'next big thing' will be related to mobile computing with "a smart-phone-related gadget that will debut in less than two years [before January 2007]".

All of this should provide some food for thought for those people claiming that "palmOne's days are numbered" while we continue to dream of all the future opportunities and possibilities that will soon open up around our Treo.  Who knows, perhaps some day people will be calling to have a conversation with my Treo instead of me

Palm founders start artificial intelligence company [EETimes]
Mobile expert predicts a brain storm [EETimes]
2005 Wired Rave Awards [Wired]
Numenta [Company Website]
On Intelligence [Amazon.com]
On Intelligence [Audible.com]

UPDATE: You can also download this 20-minute NPR interview with Hawkins in MP3 format.  And here's an excerpt from his book.

Also, USA Today has an article entitled "Father of Palm focuses on making computers brainier".

Treonauts can't wait to be part of the next big thing...

Posted by Andrew on March 29, 2005 at 12:46 AM

Treo News

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by jeepbastard | Mar 30, 2005 6:53:27 PM

AI is the missing component. Right now we spend a lot more time maintaining our PDA's and computers. We need them to take the work load off of us by anticipating our needs and being able to sort and compare data from diverse sources for us to digest rapidly.

Very exciting times.

by | Apr 14, 2005 8:28:36 PM

Wonderful work. I enjoyed read your site a lot.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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