Keith L. Downing

Keith L. Downing is Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the author of Intelligence Emerging: Adaptivity and Search in Evolving Neural Systems (MIT Press).

  • Gradient Expectations

    Structure, Origins, and Synthesis of Predictive Neural Networks

    Keith L. Downing

    An insightful investigation into the mechanisms underlying the predictive functions of neural networks—and their ability to chart a new path for AI.

    Prediction is a cognitive advantage like few others, inherently linked to our ability to survive and thrive. Our brains are awash in signals that embody prediction. Can we extend this capability more explicitly into synthetic neural networks to improve the function of AI and enhance its place in our world? Gradient Expectations is a bold effort by Keith L. Downing to map the origins and anatomy of natural and artificial neural networks to explore how, when designed as predictive modules, their components might serve as the basis for the simulated evolution of advanced neural network systems.

    Downing delves into the known neural architecture of the mammalian brain to illuminate the structure of predictive networks and determine more precisely how the ability to predict might have evolved from more primitive neural circuits. He then surveys past and present computational neural models that leverage predictive mechanisms with biological plausibility, identifying elements, such as gradients, that natural and artificial networks share. Behind well-founded predictions lie gradients, Downing finds, but of a different scope than those that belong to today's deep learning. Digging into the connections between predictions and gradients, and their manifestation in the brain and neural networks, is one compelling example of how Downing enriches both our understanding of such relationships and their role in strengthening AI tools.

    Synthesizing critical research in neuroscience, cognitive science, and connectionism, Gradient Expectations offers unique depth and breadth of perspective on predictive neural-network models, including a grasp of predictive neural circuits that enables the integration of computational models of prediction with evolutionary algorithms.

    • Paperback $50.00
  • Intelligence Emerging

    Intelligence Emerging

    Adaptivity and Search in Evolving Neural Systems

    Keith L. Downing

    An investigation of intelligence as an emergent phenomenon, integrating the perspectives of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.

    Emergence—the formation of global patterns from solely local interactions—is a frequent and fascinating theme in the scientific literature both popular and academic. In this book, Keith Downing undertakes a systematic investigation of the widespread (if often vague) claim that intelligence is an emergent phenomenon. Downing focuses on neural networks, both natural and artificial, and how their adaptability in three time frames—phylogenetic (evolutionary), ontogenetic (developmental), and epigenetic (lifetime learning)—underlie the emergence of cognition. Integrating the perspectives of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, Downing provides a series of concrete examples of neurocognitive emergence. Doing so, he offers a new motivation for the expanded use of bio-inspired concepts in artificial intelligence (AI), in the subfield known as Bio-AI.

    One of Downing's central claims is that two key concepts from traditional AI, search and representation, are key to understanding emergent intelligence as well. He first offers introductory chapters on five core concepts: emergent phenomena, formal search processes, representational issues in Bio-AI, artificial neural networks (ANNs), and evolutionary algorithms (EAs). Intermediate chapters delve deeper into search, representation, and emergence in ANNs, EAs, and evolving brains. Finally, advanced chapters on evolving artificial neural networks and information-theoretic approaches to assessing emergence in neural systems synthesize earlier topics to provide some perspective, predictions, and pointers for the future of Bio-AI.

    • Hardcover $56.00
    • Paperback $45.00