The nature of computation was first identified
by Alan Turing in the 1930's. He and von Neumann, among other pioneers of
computing, soon sought to formulate aspects of biology in those terms. In
retrospect, Darwin's theory of evolution, can also be viewed as a computational
principle, one that remarkably makes no specific mention of physics, chemistry,
ecology, or any other specifics of the physical embodiment of life. The
question we ask in this talk is how our current understanding of computation
can help advance our understanding of biology, and in particular, neuroscience
and evolution. In neuroscience the emphasis will be on quantitative accounts of
how cortex could perform the large number of cognitive tasks that a human can
perform in a lifetime, with the limited resources that appear to be available.
In evolution, the emphasis will be on a quantitatively accounting of the
apparent speed of evolution.