Alternative learning mechanisms

Machine learning

Many people, including Geoffrey Hinton, have raised concerns about the back-propagation algorithm and the fact that it’s likely not a promising way to achieve Artificial Intelligence (see this Axios blog post).

Alternative mechanisms for learning have been and are currently studied to try and approach the learning problem in a more effective way.

Direct feedback alignment

(Nøkland 2016)

Hebbian learning

The theory is sometimes summarized as “Cells that fire together wire together.”.

Predictive coding

(Whittington, Bogacz 2017; Millidge et al. 2020)


  1. . . "Direct Feedback Alignment Provides Learning in Deep Neural Networks". Arxiv:1609.01596 [cs, Stat].
  2. . . "An Approximation of the Error Backpropagation Algorithm in a Predictive Coding Network with Local Hebbian Synaptic Plasticity". Neural Computation 29 (5):1229–62. DOI.
  3. . . "Predictive Coding Approximates Backprop Along Arbitrary Computation Graphs". Arxiv:2006.04182 [cs].


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