This book presents a set of ideas about learning, why it is the process essential for life, how it occurs, and what helps and what hinders it. The book also discusses in details machine learning, how it is different from human learning, and the overall prospects of artificial intelligence. The book provides seven specific definitions of the learning:
LEARNING IS FORMING AN INTERNAL MODEL OF THE EXTERNAL WORLD
LEARNING IS EXPLOITING A COMBINATORIAL EXPLOSION
LEARNING IS MINIMIZING ERRORS
LEARNING IS EXPLORING THE SPACE OF POSSIBILITIES
LEARNING IS OPTIMIZING A REWARD FUNCTION
LEARNING IS RESTRICTING SEARCH SPACE
LEARNING IS PROJECTING A PRIORI HYPOTHESES
After defining the meaning of the learning, the book reviews human learning processes and compares them with machine learning. Next, it describes the neurology of the learning process and the changes in the human brain that it causes. The final part of the book discusses four pillars of the learning:
- Attention, which amplifies the information we focus on.
- Active engagement, an algorithm also called “curiosity,” which encourages our brain to ceaselessly test new hypotheses.
- Error feedback, which compares our predictions with reality and corrects our models of the world.
- Consolidation, which renders what we have learned fully automated and involves sleep as a key component.
MY TAKE ON IT:
This book provides complete and well-supported by research data descriptions of the learning process, how it occurs, and how it impacts the human brain. This description is valid and utterly consistent with my own learning experiences. I would also add that learning is an absolutely critical part of human existence, without which such existence becomes meaningless and dull. For example, one could look at the fate of the famous patient HM, who lost the ability to retain the new memories due to the trauma. He could not recognize his doctor even after decades of meeting him nearly every day. I would be interested in a similar description and analysis of the processes related to the long term accumulation of the knowledge and its changes over a long time when results of the new learning sometimes push out results of the previous learning, sometimes add up to it, but most often create some recombination of old and new in the highly unpredictable mix. It would be fascinating because it would explain how people’s personalities change over time. It would also be interesting because it recombines old and new learning, generating new ideas and inventions. Finally, I wish I had known lots of information presented in this book many years ago when I went through much formal learning. It conceivable could make this learning quite a bit easier.