Almaden Institute - 2006 : Cognitive Computing

"There is no scientific study more vital to man than the study of his own brain. Our entire view of the universe depends on it."

Francis H. C. Crick, September 1978

The 2006 Almaden Institute will focus on the theme of "Cognitive Computing" and will examine scientific and technological issues around the quest to understand how the human brain works. We will examine approaches to understanding cognition that unify neurological, biological, psychological, mathematical, computational, and information-theoretic insights. We focus on the search for global, top-down theories of cognition that are consistent with known bottom-up, neurobiological facts and serve to explain a broad range of observed cognitive phenomena. The ultimate goal is to understand how and when can we mechanize cognition.


The Institute will endeavor to construct a collective bird's eye view both of the state of the art and of what is to come, to elucidate and formulate the main open questions in this grand quest and to highlight promising directions. As always, the goal of the institute is to ask tough questions, to raise important discussions and to prompt significant constructive action around a contemporary scientific and technological theme.

Confirmed speakers include Toby Berger (Cornell), Gerald Edelman (The Neurosciences Institute), Joaquin Fuster (UCLA), Jeff Hawkins (Palm/Numenta), Robert Hecht-Nielsen (UCSD), Christof Koch (CalTech), Henry Markram (EPFL/BlueBrain), V. S. Ramachandran (UCSD), John Searle (UC Berkeley) and Leslie Valiant (Harvard). Confirmed panelists include: James Albus (NIST), Theodore Berger (USC), Kwabena Boahen (Stanford), Ralph Linsker (IBM), and Jerry Swartz (The Swartz Foundation).

The Institute format is designed to facilitate and foster discussion, debate, interaction, and networking. Distinguished attendees will be present from several institutions, including AFRL/AFOSR, Allen Institute, Brandeis, CIA, Cold Spring Harbor Lab, DARPA, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Foveon, Hitachi, Honda, House Ear Institute, In-Q-Tel, Intel, JPL, Krasnow Institute, LLNL, MIT Media Lab, MSRI, Minerva Foundation, Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs, NASA, NIH, NIST, NSF, Numenta, ONR, PARC, Rockfeller University, SETI, SRI, Samsung, Santa Fe Institute, Stanford, Sun, Sutter Hill Ventures, Technology Partners, The Kavli Foundation, The Neurosciences Institute, U Illinois, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced, UCLA, UCSD and UCSF.