The next great space age – inside the human brain

n a recent piece in the New York Times, Thomas L Freidman’s article ‘If I had a hammer’ discussed the new book by Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee’s new book ‘The Second Machine Age’ and the development of computing power now making even complex employment positions redundant. Whereas in the first machine age, human muscle was supported and enhanced, the second age depicts work without the need for human intervention. Which though fascinating, sounds a bit bleak for the large majority. And at the same time, the computation advances are opening up the next space race – the area inside your brain.

 

Freidman’s article can be found here and it’s a great read.

But onto the next space race. We’ve had the ‘space out there’ race, the big search for extra terrestrial life and alternative planetary homes. The latest imaging confirms the existence of exo planets quite some way away. We’ve known about but really have barely touched the hydro-space: the seas and oceans at depth and the expectation of new species or alternative locations for civilisation. And now with the additional of better instrumentation and imaging, we’re delving into the human brain in ways barely though possible just a couple of years ago.

To an extent, this development is spawning ‘neuro-marketing’ along with the greater insights into the way our brains work and function, especially when they overcome the limitations our biology imposes upon us. The early claims of neuro-marketing were really claims about the human mind – a different structure from the physical operation of the brain. The early images displayed far greater understanding of activity areas of the brain in action. Personally I think we have a way to go before we’re able to delve quite as far into the ‘mind’ of every individual and I’m wondering whether the brain imaging shows a ‘shotgun’ approach to activity, rather than a laser like level of activity, and I digress.

What the next space race indicates in its initial stages is that our awareness of our own decision making can not only be identified, it can be predicted with relative accuracy. For those who’ve read some of Leonard Mlodinow’s work, you’ll see how he suggests that not only can we now work out what you’re thinking, we can know it before YOU are consciously aware that you do. It’s an amazing idea, not yet supported by simple wearable mechanisms, but we’ll get there soon enough.

For now though, appreciate that the information you seek, access and engage with (and that includes information in product, services and in digital forms) says more about you than you could ever understand in simple terms. For recruitment, people management, decision making and marketing, the space race is well and truly on

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