Chapter 3. The Neural Network

Building Intelligent Machines

The brain is the most incredible organ in the human body. It dictates the way we perceive every sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. It enables us to store memories, experience emotions, and even dream. Without it, we would be primitive organisms, incapable of anything other than the simplest of reflexes. The brain is, inherently, what makes us intelligent.

The infant brain weighs only a single pound, but somehow it solves problems that even our biggest, most powerful supercomputers find impossible. Within a matter of months after birth, infants can recognize the faces of their parents, discern discrete objects from their backgrounds, and even tell voices apart. Within a year, they’ve already developed an intuition for natural physics, can track objects even when they become partially or completely blocked, and can associate sounds with specific meanings. And by early childhood, they have a sophisticated understanding of grammar and thousands of words in their vocabularies.1

For decades, we’ve dreamed of building intelligent machines with brains like ours—robotic assistants to clean our homes, cars that drive themselves, microscopes that automatically detect diseases. But building these artificially intelligent machines requires us to solve some of the most complex computational problems we have ever grappled with; problems that our brains can already solve in a manner of microseconds. To tackle these problems, ...

Get Fundamentals of Deep Learning, 2nd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.