The Emergent Brain

Connecting dots for a global brain.

Archive for the ‘Microperspective’ Category

Botsman on Collaborative Consumption

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TEDx talk on the emergence of collective consumerism and the three current categories: Swap, share and redistribute! Think Ebay, CarShare and Recycling.

“Rachel Botsman is the co-author of “What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” (Harper Collins, September 2010). Here, with a dazzlingly graphic display, she presents a compelling case for 21st Century sharing.”

Watch the video here.


Written by emergentbrain

28/09/2010 at 00:35

Posted in Microperspective

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Interaction of brain devices

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Following up on recent developments in reading brainwaves, the issue of a common platform for these brain devices is currently being discussed. A highly readable article in Technology Review highlights the benefits of a common platform:

“These scientific issues can be disambiguated by rudimentary brain coprocessors, built with readily available off-the-shelf components, that use recording technologies to assess how a given neural circuit perturbation alters brain dynamics. Such explorations may begin to reveal principles governing how best to control a circuit–revealing the neural targets and control strategies that most efficaciously lead to a goal brain state or behavioral effect, and thus pointing the way to new therapeutic strategies.”

An argument not mentioned in the article, but raised by Mindhacks, is increased security. However, with current developments of army research in the field one might ask if one standard platform is a realistic thought if the plan is to actively lead brain activity from the outside.

It seems that in these systems built to alter brain activity, we will necessarily see two different developments: Outside control via usable devices like headsets that can easily be shared, changed and synced, and inside control via planted devices that can interact with other components but might not necessarily be built to be an open system sharing its data with others.  While the latter could thus be used to “control the nodes”, it is the former that can enhance the nodes in a collective brain and thus lead to a more intelligent approach towards collective intelligence sharing and cooperation.

Written by emergentbrain

23/09/2010 at 14:06

Johnson on the emergence of ideas

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Ideas are networks and develop in (liquid) networks. They emerge in open innovative systems.

Via TED Talks:

“People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka!” moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web.”

Watch the video here or below:

Mentioned in the talk is Matt Ridley’s talk earlier on the same topic.

Written by emergentbrain

23/09/2010 at 00:47

Ridley on the emergence of ideas

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The exchange of ideas creates  highly specialized system based on comparative advantage, community and collaboration. And highly specialized systems can only sustain via a collective brain – where individuals can create things they don’t understand. They are just the nodes, the neurons in this collective brain. And we are surely accelerating the rate of innovation – an innovation beyond our personal capabilities.

Via TED Talks:

“At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.”

Watch the video here or below:

Written by emergentbrain

23/09/2010 at 00:41

Neuroeconomics looks at your brain’s economic stimulus

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As economics is shifting to include more behavioral data and research, a field is slowly emerging that has not received much attention yet: Neuroeconomics.

Via VoxEU:

“The objective of neuroeconomic theory is to build models based on evidence from the brain sciences, such as experimental neuroeconomics, but also other fields in neuroscience and neurobiology. Measurement of brain activity provides information about the underlying mechanisms used by the brain during choice processes. In particular, it shows which brain regions are activated when a decision is made and how these regions interact with each other. This knowledge can then be used to build a model that represents this particular mechanism. Contrary to behavioural economics, the model does not rely on introspection or plausible assumptions but rather on an existing and documented biological property of the brain.”

“Neuroeconomic theory will soon play a crucial role in the building of new reliable theories capable of explaining and predicting individual behaviour and strategic choices. The main message is that the individual is not one coherent body. The brain is a multi-system entity (with conflicting objectives, restricted information, etc.) and therefore the decision-maker must be modelled as an organisation.”

Click here to read: Neuroeconomic theory: Using neuroscience to understand the bounds of rationality

Written by emergentbrain

21/09/2010 at 23:34

Reading brainwaves

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Every since I tried the game BrainBall at Sweden’s Expo 2000 pavilion I got hooked with products measuring and reading brainwaves via EEG to produce different tasks. In the given example, two players facing opposing sides of a long table get hooked to a headband containing three electrodes that measure who is more relaxed. A ball in the middle of the table moves towards the person more stressed and the aim of the game is to push the ball completely to the opponent’s end.

While there are playful variants that base their technology on EEG – Mindflex is the most promising mainstream approach so far even though it does not actually use EEG and thus seems useless – recent times have seen serious progress in reading human minds solely by measuring brain waves. Scientific American has a piece on recent developments in reading the mind:

“The commercial products, however, cannot be so invasive. These companies use an electroencephalography cap (or EEG) that is placed on top of your head, and reads your overall brain state. Here the results are fairly crude. We can detect if one is calm, angry, excited or distracted, and we can manipulate those brain states to activate switches, like move a ball forward and back. But if we want to go beyond any binary on/off activation, however, we need to get deeper into the brain.”

The author Christie Nicholson is right in that getting deeper into the brain leads to astonishing results, such as reading paralyzed patients’  word chart choices, but one should not underestimate the power of simple headsets reading your state of mind and allowing you to control objects in easy ways. All said, Tan Le demonstrated a headset in a recent TED Talk that is capable of doing just this:

“Tan Le’s astonishing new computer interface reads its user’s brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications.”

Watch the video here or below:

The future is closer than we think indeed!

Written by emergentbrain

21/09/2010 at 12:45