Spider rewires the brain

Spider Brain by anbileru adaleru

I’m thinking about spider webs and writing. Let’s engage in this playful thought experiment, shall we?

Do a quick search and peruse articles on the Internet about the cognitive benefits of writing and journaling. What you’ll see is a lot of evidence that reflective writing can rewire your brain, along with a host of other therapeutic perks. Cool, no?

The point, when you feel that itching sense to spend some time thinking about stuff, don’t waste it, write it.  Say no to aimless thinking. Write to rewire your brain.

Consider how sensibly a spider weaves a web. Putting your fingers to the keyboard and/or pencil to paper can get you in tune with your ‘mind spider’. So when you feel the itch in your mind, it’s probably the spider in your head trying to re-web thoughts in your head. Allow the spider to extend your senses and ensnare insights that fly by.

Allow the spider to extend your linguistic senses by ensnaring the scrumptious ideas that fly by. Now I’ll drag-and-drop a couple of quotes into this post, in a very ant-like manner. It was Francis Bacon who said  the following:

“The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance.”

I’m telling myself to mull on this: Be less ant-like, more spider-like.

Of course, Bacon went on to say that bees are the best, but that’s a thought for another time. But let me just say, being bee-like takes a team.

Now, before I go, consider the description of fiction as offered by Virginia Woolf:

“a spider’s web, so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”

With both reason and imagination, let the ‘mind spider’ stretch your mind. Most of what we believe about ourselves is a mesh of fact and fiction, so it’s reasonable to recognize the difference.

In any case, it’s a cute metaphor, don’t you think?

Spider rewires the brain

Cracking the Future of Education Code (w/ KnowledgeWorks)

A report from 2009, from KnowledgeWorks called 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning caught my attention.  It identifies six major drivers of change that might unleash a wild  world of learning quite unlike any system of schooling we’ve ever experienced.  What I’m finding is that it’s increasingly a story-driven game that places students at the center of their learning experience, much like an MMORPG.  In any case, the singularity is one narrative I imagine will drastically alter what it means to be a student interfacing with a world undergoing ecological and economic shifts.

In the section called Altered Bodies we’re reminded that neuroscientists  have begun to design neuro-enhancements that might soon provide “customized learning experiences” that push the boundaries of ethics and cognitive rights.  Learners are forecast to have “more and more options for modifying their minds and bodies in support of peak performance even as they navigate increasing levels of bio-distress.”  I’m reminded of what H.G. Wells would say is urgently needed to prevent our own extinction, “the evolution of a new more powerful type of man.”

Continue reading “Cracking the Future of Education Code (w/ KnowledgeWorks)”

Cracking the Future of Education Code (w/ KnowledgeWorks)

The brain runs its show incognito.

Interview of neuroscientist David Eagleman by NPR Books

Eagleman’s new book, Incognito, examines the unconscious part of our brains — the complex neural networks that are constantly fighting one another and influencing how we act, the things we’re attracted to, and the thoughts that we have.

Eagleman refers to consciousness as “a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive engineering underfoot.”  His book investigates this fact and its implications in decision making.   He explains how the mind does enormous amount of work to reach the moment when you can gleefully say, “I just thought of something!”  He emphasizes how we often take credit for our ideas without considering the “the vast, hidden machinery behind the scenes.”

When an idea is served up from behind the scenes, your neural circuitry has been working on it for hours or days or years, consolidating information and trying out new combinations.

The key takeaway is that “the brain runs its show incognito.”

Highlights via Amazon

  • Consciousness developed because it was advantageous, but advantageous only in limited amounts.
  • Instead of reality being passively recorded by the brain, it is actively constructed by it.
  • A typical neuron makes about ten thousand connections to neighboring neurons. Given the billions of neurons, this means there are as many connections in a single cubic centimeter of brain tissue as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
  • The brain generally does not need to know most things; it merely knows how to go out and retrieve the data. It computes on a need-to-know basis.
  • illusion-of-truth effect: you are more likely to believe that a statement is true if you have heard it before—whether or not it is actually true.
The brain runs its show incognito.

Decisions 2.0: The Power of Collective Intelligence

Eric Bonabeau of Sloan Review writes that the human brain evolved to “avoid complexity (not embrace it) and to respond quickly to ensure survival (not explore numerous options).”  Today’s world is said to require “short response times and more accurate responses and more exploration of potential opportunities.”

Information technologies are thought to provide “a more accurate and intimate understanding of our environment”.  With the paradigm shift towards Web 2.0 and tapping into “the collective” comes a new era that Bonabeau labels “Decisions 2.0.”

Bonabeau points out a weakness called “pattern obsession“, when we see patterns where none exist which then influences how we frame our decisions.   He calls it a “common trap” that leads us astray due to our basic human nature.  Collective intelligence, he adds, “can help mitigate the effects of those biases” by providing a diversity of viewpoints and input, thus deterring “self-serving bias and belief perseverance.

Bonabeau considers the challenge of designing the right mechanisms for collective decision making and if giving all users equal voice, is better or worse than giving certain individuals a greater say than the collective?  If it’s the latter, he ponders, “how should those special individuals be selected?”

source : MIT Sloan Review

Decisions 2.0: The Power of Collective Intelligence

The Wave of Info Gathering Future

An article in EContent Magazine describes of a “proverbial fire hose” that endlessly supplies “junk” data that must be sifted through to discover right, targeted information and relevant intelligence.  A report from Basex Research Group is cited, indicating “information overload” is responsible for draining 28% of worker’s time, resulting in an annual productivity loss of “nearly $997 billion”.

We need the capacity to digest and retrieve all this information and we cannot do it alone.  It would be useful if the intelligence infrastructure were designed as a game that included “enterprise-ready content curation tools” and machine algorithms that would ensure players effectively “share, collaborate and act upon” gathered intelligence in real-time.

Annotations via eContentMag

  • Even if you feel like you’re on top of all your content, chances are that you’ve missed some vital information nuggets. Drinking in all the data from the proverbial fire hose is simply no longer an effective way to consume content.
  • A recent report from Basex Research Group quantifies this wasted time by estimating that workers lose 28% of their time to information overload. That amounts to nearly $997 billion in annual lost productivity for companies.
  • CIOs and CTOs are increasingly investigating new process and technology solutions that can mitigate the rising cost and productivity losses associated with data deluge.
  • It’s not just about the volume of information. It’s about finding the right, targeted information in a sea of “junk” data.
  • Businesses have just started to realize the importance and benefits of aggregating relevant intelligence.
  • The next step will be to then offer collaboration capabilities on top of content, which enable users to effectively share, collaborate and act upon the discovered intelligence in real-time.
  • Content curation, through both machine algorithms and human intervention, will become a major integrated part of the enterprise productivity and intelligence infrastructure.

 

The Wave of Info Gathering Future

Google Is Like a ‘Mental Prosthetic’

Research suggests we’re less likely to memorize much from the “influx of information,” simply because it’s so readily available online.

“Thinking with computers is a natural extension of that. In the same way you depend on a friend, now you depend on Google,” Daniel Wegner at Harvard, told TechNewsWorld.

Instead, the brain will more often remember where the information can be retrieved, rather than what the information actually is.

“We’re a lot smarter now, and that’s why we use it. We’ve become somewhat addicted because it really extends mental capacities. It’s kind of like a mental prosthetic device that’s better than what you’ve had before,” Wegner said.

According to Paul Reber, professor and director of brain, behavior and cognition at Northwestern University, our brain is wisely strategizing.

“There’s no evidence we are forgetting things more rapidly now than before the Internet. It seems likely that with a much larger amount of information generally around, we are probably trying to remember more. In addition to studying what we forget, it would be important to look at how much we remember,” Reber said.

 

Google Is Like a ‘Mental Prosthetic’

Jason Silva’s experimental essay on “Intertwingularity”

Jason Silva’s essay on Intertwingularity“, begins with a quote from  Ted Nelson about the term he coined to express the complexity of interrelations in human knowledge.

“EVERYTHING IS DEEPLY INTERTWINGLED. In an important sense there are no “subjects” at all; there is only all knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly…”

Silva draws a connection between Nelson’s notion of “all knowledge” to Teilhard De Chardin’s “noosphere”.  He’s reminded of a presentation from Chris Anderson, curator of The TED Conference, who refers to the power of imagination and he world of ideas as a kind of “life form” which has “made possible the human progress of the last 50,000 years.”  Anderson is enthusiastic about imagination as key to every evolutionary step forward through countless dead ends.  Anderson looks to our brains as ecosystems for “a new kind of life”.

Silva stresses the importance of our species with a quote from futurist Ray Kurzweil who said:

“…It turns out that we are central, after all.  Our ability to create models–virtual realities–in our brains, combined with our modest-looking thumbs, has been sufficient to usher in another form of evolution: technology.  That development enabled the persistence of the accelerating pace that started with biological evolution. It will continue until the entire universe is at our fingertips.”

Silva’s essay fuses quotes about technology as an extension of evolution, so that we might be encouraged to “step out of the familiar.”  For what he sees possible is   a humanity becoming immortal as we are “amplified by our technologically-extended minds.

Jason Silva’s experimental essay on “Intertwingularity”