Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dileep George leaving Numenta

Big Numenta news today. Numenta's website indicates that Dileep George is on an extended "personal" leave of absence. He, along with Jeff Hawkins, co-founded Numenta back in 2005. It is hard to overstate his importance to the company over the years. He was the guy who read "On Intelligence" and figured out how to turn Hawkins' neuroscience theories into a mathematical expression that could be created in software. I went to George's website, and he says there that he left Numenta so that he could form a new company focused more on applications of the HTM technology.

I am not sure what to think about this. On the one hand, this could signal that George simply thinks that the technology is finally in a state that serious commercial applications can now be created with HTM. Numenta has always been more about the basics of the theory than applications, so it might be that Dileep just wants to hurry along the commercialization process. This could be a signal that the new algorithms really are going to be that big of a step forward for AI.

Hopefully this move doesn't mean some type of rift has opened between George and the company. Numenta could really use his talents down the road. Given George's stated reason for leaving, and given that it is called a "leave of absence" rather than outright resignation, I am inclined to go with the more optimistic interpretation.


  1. It doesn't seem like a rift to me. Actually, I'd agree that this seems like good news, as HTMs might be entering a very commercially realizable phase. Keep us in the loop, and thanks for the update!!

  2. Yes, thanks for the update :-)

    If it's a rift, could George legally take the code ?

  3. I doubt that George could just take the code. I am not a legal expert on such matters, but it is likely that the source code is owned by Numenta itself as a corporate entity.

    Hawkins has always said that his goal for Numenta is to get people working on brain-like software. They even considered a non-profit model for Numenta. While I am sure that Hawkins hopes to make money from his theories, money clearly has not been his major motivator. If George goes on to create amazing applications with a separate company, Hawkins would probably be happy for him.

  4. I actually emailed Dileep about this, and everything is copacetic. From his email:

    "...I did agonize a lot before deciding to take a leave from Numenta, but after taking the decision I do feel it was the right one. Yes, everything is friendly between me and the team. I made sure that Numenta will be fine without me and I am ready to help if needed. Jeff and Donna were supportive of my decision to take a break and explore."

    So it looks like everything is in good shape. Good luck to Dileep in all his future endeavors - we know he will continue to do great things!

  5. 1. I don't think there's one or two "secrets" to AI.
    2. All neural network efforts are at least somewhat biologically inspired.
    3. My detailed comments on Numenta are in my review of ON INTELLIGENCE on Amazon.
    R. Jones