Thinking about Jeff Hawkins’s new book, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (Basic Books 2021), championing the mammalian neocortex, for example, one might ask, what does the iconic mammalian neocortex do that equivalent systems in birds and octopuses can’t do? That’s not clear. And human intelligence is something different again.
Stripped of the rhetoric about supposedly fallen “pillars of human exceptionalism,” the researchers found a neuronal response in carrion crows that “might be a broad marker” for consciousness. Well, sure, it might. But before we get carried away, the consciousness we should know the most about is human consciousness, which remains almost a complete mystery to us, despite much research.