As a teenager I became entranced by the notion of accelerated learning and enhanced human capabilities.
What heights might humanity achieve, if we could enhance our capacities for intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, learning, and action?
As an undergrad at MIT in the sixties, I avidly pursued studies in neurobiology, psychology, mathematical learning theory, electrical engineering, computer science, and AI.
I wanted to answer these questions: How do we learn? How do we create new ideas? What is the circuitry of pain and pleasure? Does cognition require neurons or might a machine be designed to think and feel?
To pursue this work I went to medical school. I was in an MD, PhD program at the University of California in San Francisco. At UCSF I continued my studies in neurobiology and cognitive science. My 1971 paper, Towards a Theory of Information Storage in the Brain , summarized those studies.
I then did a three year residency in Internal Medicine but afterward returned full-time to cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
I came to Stanford University as both a grad student in computer science and as a post-doc fellow in Clinical Pharmacology at the Medical School.
During my first two years at Stanford I worked on the MYCIN Project — a widely-cited, pioneering effort in medical expert systems.
The next eight years I spent designing, programming, testing, and leading the RX Project at Stanford .
RX was designed as an automated discovery engine. It took as input a large clinical database of symptoms, treatments, and lab tests gathered over several years on thousands of patients. Its output was a collection of newly discovered (new to it) medical knowledge.
In 1986 I returned to medical practice - this time emergency medicine. Clinical medicine provided a better livelihood when I was starting a family Besides, the methods and tools of AI and cognitive science were still too weak to provide a real basis for emulating human intelligence. In 2007 I retired from clinical medicine after twenty years as an emergency physician. While I've seen welcome advances in medical care - new drugs, improved imaging, better surgeries – medicine – like cognitive science – is still in its infancy . The biotech engineering that will usher in a golden age of medicine is only now beginning. I cheer my fellow Californians for their support of stem cell research, which will provide real solutions to the age-old problems that beset mankind: heart attack, stroke, cancer, dementia, diabetes, and age-related deterioration.
And now, what’s the purpose of this website? Reporting on research in cognitive neuroscience and AI gives me an opportunity to stay current and enables you to follow along. It's a thrill for me to be able to share with you the discoveries and insights of the top researchers in these fields as they try to uncover the design of the human brain and try to emulate it in silicon.
Humanity, as presently constituted, is not the ultimate pinnacle of evolution’s ascent toward global intelligence, consciousness, or wisdom. Reporting on current developments that pave the way beyond our current horizon is my ultimate focus.