Nita Farahany is a Professor of Law and Philosophy at Duke University. She holds many accolades, but of special interest to me is her work exploring the implications of neuroscience on self-incrimination, or, more broadly, freedom of thought.

First, a positive angle from the video:

With the ability to visualize brain activity for example through a simple consumer-based EEG device, it gives us access to ourselves in ways that we’ve never before thought possible. It unlocks the black box that is the brain and enables us to really truly be able to realize an identity that is aspirational.

Just before you chuck your Fitbits, Nita identifies one slight potential problem:

One of the things that I think is so essential to free and open society is this freedom of thought. And up until now, the conversation we’ve been having is around freedom of speech. Once we can access people’s thoughts and access people’s emotion, we have to create a space that enables people to think freely, to think divergent thoughts, to think creative thoughts. And in a society where people fear having those thoughts, the likelihood of being able to enjoy progress is significantly diminished.

In the context of my Megabrain idea, this poses an interesting question: if everyone knows what everyone else is thinking, and everyone’s knowledge is based on everyone else’s, how can original ideas be generated – and, moreover, how can they be encouraged?

I’ll be digging into this in more detail in the coming weeks, after doing more research.

What do you think? Shoot me a note to sabbatical@mashakrol.com, or leave a comment below. I’m just getting into it, so any learnings you can share will move me forward 😉

Full Video Transcript

We are wondering what is happening to the world. Everything is changing.

The very idea of “human” being some sort of a natural concept is really gonna change.

Our bodies will be so high-tech we won’t be able to really distinguish between what’s natural and what’s artificial.

Inside our own heads is the most complex arrangement of matter in the known universe.

You might ask yourself, “Can we get to be superhumans?”

THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

The original industrial revolution was driven by the discovery that you could use steam engines to do all kinds of interesting things.

But that was followed by additional revolutions for electricity, and computers, and communications technology. We’re now in the early stages of the fourth industrial revolution, which is bringing together digital, physical and biological systems.

One of the features of this fourth industrial revolution is that it doesn’t change what we’re doing, but it changes us.
– Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

With the ability to visualize brain activity for example through a simple consumer-based EEG device, it gives us access to ourselves in ways that we’ve never before thought possible. It unlocks the black box that is the brain and enables us to really truly be able to realize an identity that is aspirational.
– Nita Farahany, Duke University, USA

There is now a scientific foundation for the effects of mindfulness on the brain, on the genome, on biological aging, and when the human mind does know itself then you get the potential for a new renaissance that restructures itself in terms of our relationship to life, our relationship to the planet, our relationship to work.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, University of Massachusetts, USA

We need a different economic model. And by that I don’t mean capitalism versus communism. What I’m talking about is a shift in the system along the lines of the two big changes that happened in the 20th century. Keynesianism was a much greater focus on health and education, and the role of government working with business. And then a reaction against that in late century to Neo-Liberalism where the focus was on free markets, freedom of the individual and getting governments out of the way. We need a shift to a new system that will allow us to meet the basic needs of every human on the planet, that will live within planetary means, that will be fairer, and that will be focused as its key goal not on growth per se but on maximizing human well-being. And history tells us that a value shift is triggered by creation of a new story of how we want to live.
– Stewart Wallis, New Economics Foundation, UK

I see the circular economy as something which fits very closely with mankind’s goal to be innovative and creative, and to always progress. We can use asset tracking, we can use IT, we can use 3D printing to enable this different economic model to recover materials, feed them back into the economy and really to decouple growth from the resource constraints we have.
– Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, UK

The reason we live in cities is not different today than it was 10,000 years ago. Even if we have got networks connecting us, we still want to have places where we meet in person. What this means is the place where we work and the place where we live are much closer to each other in a city where we don’t need to have big supply chains in order to produce things, where many things can be sourced locally thanks to 3D printing and robotics. So if we’re able to do something to transform cities to make them more efficient, then the impact can be huge.
– Carlo Ratti, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Think about the prospect of getting rid of plastics. We must not only be inspired or informed by nature, but actually use natural organisms with which to design products and building parts. Only instead of varying material properties, we’re varying biological functionality.
– Neri Oxman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Design is critical today because it’s the first signal of human intention. With the question of adding quality to quantity, it isn’t a matter of simply circulating to things that are potentially toxic, it’s circulating things that are safe and healthy for all generations. So the goal is no longer, “I want to be less bad, less monotonous, less unsafe, less unjust.” It’s really about a diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy.
– William McDonough, Stanford University, USA

Together we are fighting to preserve our fragile climate from irreversible damage and devastation of unthinkable proportions.
– Leonardo DiCaprio, Crystal Award Winner, Davos 2016

If you think about the original industrial revolution, it was an energy revolution. I like to think of it as a kind of book-ending of a period in human history during which we used fossil fuels and it worked very well for us for a long time, but now we have to bring that to an end. We have energy technologies that can power our civilization: solar, wind, biomass. So then the question is, “Well, how do we get good integration?” Maybe the wind is blowing in Denmark, the sun is shining in Germany, and now you can move that electricity through an integrated grid, you can supply energy to everyone who needs it, and you can supply energy at all times.
– Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University, USA

GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Centre
Detroit, USA

Walking around you do see different stuff, as far as like the body marriage line – they use a lot of things that help them lift up and move things to the car. You just sit there and you know program something and it has its own set mind to go ahead and do everything. And then as humans we just come in and take the extra step to help the technology.
– SharV Bailey, General Motors, USA

It’s not the cure-all for everything, there’s definitely a lot of things where people perform the operation better, but certainly for the right applications robotics are a huge improvement for the process.
– Todd Clippard, General Motors, USA

The prediction of 5 million jobs lost by 2020 to technology is serious, but it’s not the main question. Construction, manufacturing, services, public health and education – those industries will still exist. The main question is: what will be the future of work? How will we define work? How will we share the wealth?
– Sharan Burrows, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium

From the viewpoint of a [indistinct] of jobs, my idea [is] we dearly need new education, or new training.
– Hiroaki Nakanishi, Hitachi, Japan

We’re working with a world in motion in first robotics, trying to encourage, you know, students from third grade all the way up through the end of high school. We had students make sailboats, and then we had them race them, and so they could see how quickly they could move. And they immediately went back and started to say, “Oh, I saw what happened, I’m going to go change this or that.” And that was third graders!
– Mary Barra, General Motors Company, USA

I’d just given a prize to a kid of 18 years old that has discovered something really very very unique. He came up with how to get better productivity, and better yields for seeds of corn and so he basically came with the idea that if you would perforate these seeds, you would get more food. And you think about it and you say, “But he didn’t go to university, so, how does he get all that knowledge?” And he told me, “I mean, I’ve been watching Youtube since the age of 12, and I’m so interested that I’ve seen everything about it, I’ve read everything about it.” The world is really open to learning. The thing is, how do you give the incentive to your kids to do that?
– Carlos Moedas, European Commission, Belgium

It’s this ability of digital technology to change outcomes to truly empower people all over the world that can create a more equitable growth because I think the world needs that.
– Satya Nadella, Microsoft Corporation, USA

Fourth industrial revolution has the potential to make inequalities visible and to make them less acceptable in the future and hopefully to gather and garner political support to take the necessary decision to reduce the gap.
– Peter Maurer, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Switzerland

Humans have always been using tools. But because of the recent advances in technology, we’re beginning to have machines that can augment us in all sorts of interesting ways.
– Erik Brynjolfsson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

I was the first person in the world to be able to voluntarily move my legs while stepping in a robot by exciting the nervous system using electrical stimulators directly onto the spine. We believe that a cure will be possible if enough of the right people help the world to fastback a cure for paralysis.
– Mark Pollock, Mark Pollock Trust, Ireland

We take two things from the patient, first we take a 3d x-ray and we extract the 3d data out of that so we can make a perfectly shaped puzzle piece. And then we also take a sample of fat tissue from the patient so that we can extract the stem cells out of those. And we use those stem cells with this 3d scaffold that we fabricate, and after 3 weeks we have a piece of living bone that’s ready for implantation.
– Nina Tandon, Epibone, USA

Being able to use genome editing to understand the genetic changes that lead to cancer and the technologies like drug delivery getting molecules into particular types of cells. There is a lot of excitement to be able to move much more quickly on this disease.
– Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley, USA

One of the things that I think is so essential to free and open society is this freedom of thought. And up until now, the conversation we’ve been having is around freedom of speech. Once we can access people’s thoughts and access people’s emotion, we have to create a space that enables people to think freely, to think divergent thoughts, to think creative thoughts. And in a society where people fear having those thoughts, the likelihood of being able to enjoy progress is significantly diminished.
– Nita Farahany, Duke University, USA

We need to take responsibility at every level of society from the individual and the personal, to the institutional to the global to adapt to these technological challenges and changes which are redefining what it means to be human, what it means to work, what it means to be completely embedded in this world.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, University of Massachusetts, USA

People always ask me if I’m an optimist or a pessimist. The technology exists, but how do we get it and implement it at the scale we need, at a price that people around the world can afford.
– Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University, USA

Even though we have everyday problems we have to solve, we have to find a way to lay the foundations for the innovations of tomorrow.
– Marietta DiChristina, Scientific American, USA

Hat tip to Alex for this video. Source: The Fourth Industrial Revolution from Marta Chierego on Vimeo.

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