LIft13, Noise and Speed: Sebastian Dieguez

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Noise and Speed: Loose Brakes and Failing Filters”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Sebastian Dieguez

Neuroscience perspective on everything that’s going on here. Bring it on!

Lots of books about the dangers of the internet for your brain. And Newsweek (“iCrazy”). Internet addiction all over the place. All around the press.

List of symptoms we can find in the press:

  • loneliness
  • narcissism and low self-esteem
  • add
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • narrowed thinking
  • loss of reliance on memory
  • FOMO
  • stupidity

Psychiatric terms…

Sebastian was asked to write something about Twitter and narcissism. Well, there’s not much out there from a scientific point of view. steph-note: surprise!

Tried to reverse the issue completely.

The reason we fear all these things is… 1984 (well, all that’s in there: fear of totalitarism, etc — nothing new).

What if, instead, human brains were hacking our technologies? As a biologist/pyschologist, it’s pretty obvious our brains are, based on the last two days of Lift.

Business is using the brain to make money. Like the ice-cream industry, exploiting certain facts about the human brain to make money. Not new, just using what the brain does usually. Tactile interfaces? biologically based.

3 examples of how the brain drives culture and constrains it.

  1. connecting, reaching out, meeting people, getting involved with touch, sensory interfaces. Numbness illusion experiment. Feeling numbness for someone else’s finger. Cheap study!!

  2. Changizi-Dehaene hypothesis. Written language, reading. Cultural harnessing and recycling. How writing hijacked the brain. Writing system evolved to fit the brain. Letters form in the brain. Tear apart the letters of all the languages, on average a letter is 3 strokes. After that, you can build all the topological configurations using three lines. Then used a huge database of pictures of nature, counting “3 lines” in the pictures. Random? Frequency is almost the same as in cultural languages. Insane! (Doesn’t make the news of course). Alphabet of any language in the world corresponds to what the people see in nature (strokes and angles…).

Conclusion: brain somewhere in the middle between natural selection (what we see) and cultural selection (alphabet morphing to the kind of shapes that the brain likes). Nobody designed the system for that!

Random thoughts: the brain has limitations but we can exploit them. steph-note: hey, cinema anybody?

Experiment: tell people to be as free as possible, act randomly (experimental psychologist, yay). Ex give numbers from 1-6 randomly, he writes them down, and analyzes the data. People hate doing that.

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