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I would not describe development of deep learning as discontinuous, but I would describe it as fast. As far as I can tell, development of deep learning happened by accumulation of many small improvements over time, sometimes humorously described as graduate student descent (better initialization, better activation function, better optimizer, better architecture, better regularization, etc.). It seems possible or even probable that brain-inspired RL could follow the similar trajectory once it took off, absent interventions like changes to open publishing norm.