United in Diversity: Talents for Mindfire Mission-1
A firing vision, a unique program and highly motivated people: On May 15, Pascal Kaufmann, Christoph von der Malsburg, Lukas Sieber and a selection of the Mission-1 talents presented first outcomes at a media roundtable.
Christoph von der Malsburg, a pioneer in neuroscience, quickly cut to the chase and pointed out that at the moment, there is a lot of movement and excitement in the market – deep learning and self driving cars, to name a few directions – but we still have no idea how the brain works and we have not made any significant progress in the last 50 years. One of the most pressing questions remains: How does the nervous system translate information into the personal experiences we live?
Prof. Dr. von der Malsburg is convinced that the answer to this question can be found in the braincode. To find the principles of human intelligence, it not only takes neuroscientists but also AI experts, physicists, mathematicians, bioscientists and beautiful minds from many more disciplines.
Design of the Mindfire program and mission approach
There are concepts and ideas brought in by various experts and talents. A common denominator is the synthetic approach which can be summarized as “understanding by building”. Mindfire builds tangible prototypes demonstrating the application of principles of intelligence. The current approach aims at building artificial organisms. However, completely different approaches and strategies can and should be developed during M-1 and future Missions. Ultimately, an overall program outline and approach shall be signed off, providing guidelines for all further missions.
High motivation and engagement of the talents
But what makes beautiful minds from all over the world travelling to Davos to participate in Mindfire Mission-1? During the roundtable, selected Mindfire talents were talking about their motivation and their own intrinsic reasons for being part of this one of a kind endeavour. Corinne Ackermann, Mindfire talent and a Swiss biologist currently working on her PhD, learned about Mindfire through a national newspaper. «I am brave and I can contribute», she states, «and I love how we are exchanging ideas here, how we cross-fertilize each other’s ideas, and how we begin to work as an organism.» Another advantage of the Mindfire Program lies in the interdisciplinary approach and the goal to unite a multitude of bright minds from different scientific, educational and cultural background. For Nevicia Case, a Mindfire talent from Canada, it is clear that this is one of the crucial success factors for Mindfire: «In order to develop AI, it is essential to not only consider technological aspects but also to have a proper understanding of neuropsychology and related fields».
Tackling humankind’s most pressing needs by developing human-level AI
Mindfire brings together beautiful minds of all ages. As Julius Vering, a Mindfire talent from Switzerland, stated: “I never before found myself in a group of people as heterogeneous as the Mindfire talents of Mission-1. The ability to share ideas and concepts was simply unique.” Another Mindfire talent, Jennifer Goldman from the United States, is also convinced that understanding the brain will not only lead us to the creation of artificial intelligence but to understand the origin and processes of mental illnesses and thus to find a cure for them. With this mindset, she incarnates the spirit of Mindfire, whose goal is to «decode the mind for humankind».