Mr. Hawkins, who helped develop the technology in Palm, an early and successful mobile device, is a co-founder of Numenta, a predictive software company. Numenta’s technology is based on Mr. Hawkins’s theories of how the brain works, a subject he has studied and published on intensively. Perhaps most important for the technology industry, the product works off streams of real-time information from sensors, not the trillions of bytes of data that companies are amassing.
Numenta’s product, called Grok, is a cloud-based service that works much the same way. Grok takes steady feeds of data from things like thermostats, Web clicks, or machinery. From initially observing the data flow, it begins making guesses about what will happen next. The more data, the more accurate the predictions become.
It has been much more difficult to engineer than that sounds. Modeling itself on 40 sensory receptors feeding over 128 information-seeing dendrites on each cell of the brain, Mr. Hawkins put into Grok a mathematical algorithm that he says approximates the way brain cells work together, even sometimes canceling out each other’s signals to refine a sense of what’s going on.“This is the future of machine intelligence,” he said. “Twenty years from now the computer industry will be driven by this, I’m certain of it.”