It seems that technology companies are increasingly interested in the way our brains work and the way we learn. In this recent article, we are told that Apple is currently hiring speech recognition specialists and is in the process of constructing artificial neural networks to process information in ways similar to the way our brains do. Other companies operating in this field include Google (no surprises there), IBM, Facebook and Microsoft. This new field of artificial intelligence development is called ‘deep learning’. What is interesting is that we don’t often hear about the concept of deep learning in schools. We hear about curriculum and standards, and to a lesser degree, personal development and the education of the whole person. But what if educators took notice of the concept of deep learning.
It seems that technology companies are developing an increasing interest in how our brains actually work. Naturally, this is so that they can create more products which they can sell to us, so that they can make more money. But there is something curious about this, beyond the fact that we like the products they make. And that is, there is a genuine interest in knowing how our brains work, and making products that both appeal to our brains, and learn from them. Perhaps it’s a long bow to draw, but could we achieve better if we took more interest in what was going on in our brains as we were learning something, rather than just trying to learn something? Take for example, the new statistics student. Seemingly dry, and very technical stuff. But what if that student actually tried to understand what the brain was trying to do, rather than just learning the material in the hope of being able to recall it at a later time? Perhaps the headache is caused by the brain actually and physically creating new neural networks. Maybe its just the boring textbook. However, the concept of deep learning bears thinking about… deeply.