Neuroscience and AI have a long, intertwined history. Artificial intelligence pioneers looked to the principles of the organization of the brain as inspiration to make intelligent machines. In a surprising reversal, AI is now helping us understand its very source of inspiration: the human brain. This approach of using AI to build models of the brain is referred to as neuroAI. Over the next decade, we’ll make ever more precise in silico brain models, especially models of our two most prominent senses, vision and hearing. As a result, we’ll be able to download and use sensory models, on demand, with the same convenience that we can do object recognition or natural language processing.
Many neuroscientists and artificial intelligence researchers are – understandably! – very excited about this: brains on demand! Discovering what it means to see, to feel, to be human! Less well recognized is that there are wide practical applications in industry. I have long been a researcher in this field, having worked on how the brain transforms vision into meaning since my PhD. I’ve seen the progression of the field from its inception, and I think now is the time to pursue how neuroAI can drive more creativity and improve our health.
I predict that neuroAI will first find widespread use in art and advertising, especially when connected to new generative AI models like GPT-3 and DALL-E. While current generative AI models can produce creative art and media, they can’t tell you if that media will ultimately communicate a message to the intended audience – but neuroAI could. For instance, we might replace the trial and error of focus groups and A/B tests and directly create media that communicates exactly what we want. The tremendous market pressures around this application will create a virtuous cycle that improves neuroAI models.