Saturday, February 22, 2014

Artificial Intelligence and the Bible: Sensory Learning in Smyrna, Part I

Part I, II


Previously in this series, I wrote that I get my understanding of intelligence and the brain (see Secrets of the Holy Grail) from ancient Biblical metaphorical texts that are thousands of years old. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I am a crank and a lunatic; what else is new?) The message to the church of Smyrna in the book of Revelation is particularly interesting because it describes sensory learning, the most important aspect of perception. In this article, I interpret the metaphors in the message and I argue that experts in deep learning neural networks (the current rage in artificial intelligence research) are lost in the wilderness because they got sensory processing all wrong.

A Note About Sensory Signals in the Brain

The brain uses two types of sensors and each type serves a completely different purpose. The book of Revelation uses two metaphors to describe them: the poor and the rich. "Poor" sensors are used by the sensory cortex for unsupervised perceptual learning and pattern recognition whereas "rich" sensors are used by the cerebellum for fully supervised sensorimotor learning. I will get back to the cerebellum in a future article.

A poor sensor fires either at the onset or offset of a phenomenon or stimulus. By contrast, a rich sensor fires repeatedly during the entire duration of the phenomenon. This is illustrated in the diagram below. The curved line represents the varying intensity of a sensed phenomenon, say, the changing amplitude of an audio frequency signal over time. The brain uses multiple discrete sensors to detect different signal amplitudes. For simplicity's sake, the diagram is concerned only with the detection of a single amplitude shown as a horizontal line.
It takes two poor sensors (A and B) to sense a phenomenon at a given amplitude, one to detect the onset and another to detect the offset of the phenomenon. By contrast, a single rich sensor associated with the same phenomenon at the same amplitude fires repeatedly while the phenomenon lasts. The short vertical lines in the diagram represent the firing pulses of a rich sensor. The two red vertical lines at the beginning and end of the series are the pulses emitted by the onset and offset sensors. As seen below, the message to Smyrna is concerned only with poor sensors, i.e., with the first and the last pulses.
Note: It goes without saying that the sensory cortex responds only to changes in the environment. If you are an AI expert and your machine learning program does not use onset and offset sensors as described above, you are doing it wrong. This is especially important in visual or auditory processing. Visual processing requires frequent jerky motions (microsaccades) of the eye in order to effect changes that the sensors in the retina can respond to. Those of you who are convinced that deep learning and convolutional neural networks are God's gifts to humanity, have a surprise coming.
Message to the Church of Smyrna
Revelation 2:8-11
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

The message to Smyrna is the shortest of all the messages to the seven churches of Asia in the book of Revelation, but don't let that fool you. It manages to pack an amazing amount of crucial information about sensory signals and sensory learning in just a few short sentences.

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:

"The First and the Last", of course, symbolizes the onset and offset sensory pulses explained above. As we shall see in the interpretation of verse 10, the phrase "who was dead, and came to life" alludes to the fact that, during pattern learning, sensory connections almost always die (are disconnected) and then resurrected (are reconnected somewhere else).

9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);

The church of Smyrna goes through tribulation. This symbolizes that every sensory connection must go through a testing period. Even though the church is poor, it becomes rich through hard work and by overcoming tribulation.

9 [...] and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

This is both humorous and powerful. As I will explain in a future article, the false Jews, or the "synagogue of Satan", represent the church of Laodicea, which I interpret to symbolize the cerebellum, a supervised sensorimotor mechanism used for routine or automated tasks. The cerebellum receives sensory signals only from rich sensors.

Coming Up

In Part II, I will interpret verses 10 and 11 of the message to Smyrna, which describe the heart of sensory and pattern learning.

See Also:

The Billion Dollar AI Castle in the Air
Secrets of the Holy Grail
Artificial Intelligence and the Bible: Message to Sardis
Artificial Intelligence and the Bible: Joshua the High Priest
Artificial Intelligence and the Bible: The Golden Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees

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