TED Conversations

Andy Averbuch

CTO, futurethinkdigital

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Idea: The human brain is currently evolving by adapting to electronic based high frequency cycles.

One of the human brain's main tasks is to always be synched to environmental cycles and reoccurring patterns. Jeff Hawkins describes our brain as a pattern recognition machine with a pattern memory attached. He describes the brain as a prediction machine that is constantly synched to environmental cycles and patterns (reality) in his TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/jeff_hawkins_on_how_brain_science_will_change_computing.html.

Recently emerging environmental patterns that are practically affecting human survival are industrial and electronic frequency cycles. The brain is now actively adapting to these cycles on a conscious level. There is the potential for humans to create tools that operate using these cycles in a proactive way. Consider this: a desktop computer can function at incredible frequencies for certain processes, yet has bottlenecks of multiple orders of magnitude in difference. A human computer user can become much more efficient at using this high frequency tool if the bottlenecks are reduced in magnitude.

Kwabena Boahen describes the bottlenecks in modern computers and their inefficiency when compared with human brain processing in his talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/kwabena_boahen_on_a_computer_that_works_like_the_brain.html

Personally, as a computer programer, this back and forward between high frequency thinking and low frequency beach balling is forcing me to always have a backup device ready to maintain my attention focused at high frequency in case of a bottleneck event. My brain hates having to go from mach 10 to hitting a bring wall so i help it by giving it alternative high frequency opportunities during the slowdown. Also, children born being exposed to high frequency cycles on a conscious level all the time are basically training their brains to work at these frequencies. This is either an opportunity or a handicap depending on the context.


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    Nov 14 2012: Not too long ago I was a physics student who had to concentrate through 3 hours of lectures every morning, but in the past 2 years maybe I've spent a lot of my time using computers and working with children (I'm a teacher working in Korea). Very recently I've noticed that I find it incredibly difficult to concentrate on one thing for any length of time. I realised this about myself after becoming frustrated with some students who could not pay attention for (honestly) less than 10minutes.

    The children here all have iPads and when at home spend most of their time on computers, as do I. Undoubtedly modern technology is allowing us to access information and operate our brains at a high frequency. However, I believe it may also be having a huge impact on our ability to work efficiently and at the right pace when we're not using a screen. What do you think of this? Have you any suggestions for this "problem"/change in behaviour?
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      Nov 14 2012: That is a good question. What we are witnessing is a split in frequency usage of the brain, as you mentioned. The low-frequency patterns are more deeply embedded in our physiology. It's the same thing that happened during the Industrial revolution. We created machines that were efficient based on their output and material constitution but where detrimental to and physically incompatible with their operators, resulting in a miserable existence for the poor people who were stuck working them in factories. What we need is a compromise: we need to be better at switching between the 2 frequencies, or we need to pick one and abstract the other using intermediary tools and interfaces. For example, i'm a coder, i hate typing and i prefer writing more efficient shorter lines of code rather then verbose long paragraphs of code. Let the robots do the hard work, and let me control the robots using interfaces that fit my physiology better. For us older folks, the robots would do the high frequency stuff. For younger people, i suspect they would rather have the robots do the slow frequency stuff.

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