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← Know thyself, with a brain scanner | Ariel Garten | TEDxToronto

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Showing Revision 8 created 12/05/2016 by TED Translators admin.

  1. The maxim, "Know thyself"
    has been around since the ancient Greeks.
  2. Some attribute this golden world
    knowledge to Plato, others to Pythagoras.
  3. But the truth is it doesn't really matter
    which sage said it first,
  4. because it's still
    sage advice, even today.
  5. "Know thyself."
  6. It's pithy almost to the point
    of being meaningless,
  7. but it rings familiar
    and true, doesn't it?
  8. "Know thyself."
  9. I understand this timeless dictum
    as a statement about the problems,
  10. or more exactly, the confusions,
    of consciousness.
  11. I've always been fascinated
    with knowing the self.
  12. This fascination led me
    to submerge myself in art,
  13. study neuroscience,
    and later, to become a psychotherapist.
  14. Today I combine all my passions
    as the CEO of InteraXon,
  15. a thought-controlled computing company.
  16. My goal, quite simply, is to help people
    become more in tune with themselves.
  17. I take it from this
    little dictum, "Know thyself."
  18. If you think about it,
  19. this imperative is kind of the defining
    characteristic of our species, isn't it?
  20. I mean, it's self-awareness
  21. that separates Homo sapiens
    from earlier instances of our mankind.
  22. Today we're often too busy
  23. tending to our iPhones and iPods
    to really stop and get to know ourselves.
  24. Under the deluge of minute-to-minute
    text conversations,
  25. e-mails, relentless exchange
    of media channels
  26. and passwords and apps
    and reminders and Tweets and tags,
  27. we lose sight of what all this fuss is
    supposed to be about in the first place:
  28. Ourselves.
  29. Much of the time we're transfixed
  30. by all of the ways we can reflect
    ourselves out into the world.
  31. And we can barely find the time to reflect
    deeply back in on our own selves.
  32. We've cluttered ourselves up
    with all this.
  33. And we feel like we have to get
    far, far away to a secluded retreat,
  34. leaving it all behind.
  35. So we go far away
    to the top of a mountain,
  36. assuming that perching
    ourselves on a piece
  37. is bound to give us the respite we need
    to sort the clutter, the chaotic everyday,
  38. and find ourselves again.
  39. But on that mountain where we gain
    that beautiful peace of mind,
  40. what are we really achieving?
  41. It's really only a successful escape.
  42. Think of the term we use, "Retreat."
  43. This is the term that armies use
    when they've lost a battle.
  44. It means we've got to get out of here.
  45. Is this how we feel
    about the pressures of our world,
  46. that in order to get inside ourselves,
  47. you have to run for the hills?
  48. And the problem with escaping
    your day-to-day life
  49. is that you have to come home, eventually.
  50. So when you think about it,
  51. we're almost like a tourist
    visiting ourselves over there.
  52. And eventually, that vacation's got
    to come to an end.
  53. So my question to you is,
  54. can we find ways to know ourselves
    without the escape?
  55. Can we redefine our relationship
    with the technologized world
  56. in order to have the heightened
    sense of self-awareness that we seek?
  57. Can we live here and now in our wired web
  58. and still follow those ancient
    instructions, "Know thyself?"
  59. I say the answer is yes.
  60. And I'm here today to share a new way
  61. that we're working
    with technology to this end,
  62. to get familiar with our inner self
    like never before...
  63. Humanizing technology
    and furthering that age-old quest of ours
  64. to more fully know the self.
  65. It's called thought-controlled computing.
  66. You may or may not have noticed
  67. that I'm wearing a tiny
    electrode on my forehead.
  68. This is actually a brainwave sensor
  69. that's reading the electrical
    activity of my brain
  70. as I give this talk.
  71. These brainwaves are being analyzed
    and we can see them as a graph.
  72. That blue line there is my brainwave.
  73. It's the direct signal being recorded
    from my head, rendered in real time.
  74. The green and red bars show
    that same signal displayed by frequency,
  75. with lower frequencies here
  76. and higher frequencies up here.
  77. You're actually looking
    inside my head as I speak.
  78. These graphs are compelling,
    they're undulating,
  79. but from a human's perspective,
    they're actually not very useful.
  80. That's why we've spent a lot of time
  81. thinking about how to make this data
    meaningful to the people who use it.
  82. For instance,
  83. what if I could use this data to find out
    how relaxed I am at any moment?
  84. Or what if I can take that information
  85. and put it into an organic
    shape up on the screen?
  86. The shape on the right over here
  87. has become an indicator
    of what's going on in my head.
  88. The more relaxed I am,
  89. the more the energy's going
    to fall through it.
  90. I may also be interested in knowing
    how focused I am,
  91. so I can put my level of attention
    into the circuit board on the other side.
  92. And the more focused my brain is,
  93. the more the circuit board
    is going to surge with energy.
  94. Ordinarily, I would have no way
    of knowing how focused or relaxed I was
  95. in any tangible way.
  96. As we know, our feelings
    about how we're feeling
  97. are notoriously unreliable.
  98. We've all had stress creep up
    on us without even noticing it
  99. until we lost it on someone
    who didn't deserve it,
  100. and then we realize that we probably
    should have checked in with ourselves
  101. a little earlier.
  102. This new awareness
    opens up vast possibilities
  103. for applications that help
    improve our lives and ourselves.
  104. We're trying to create technology
    that uses the insights
  105. to make our work more efficient,
    our breaks more relaxing
  106. and our connections deeper
    and more fulfilling than ever.
  107. I'm going to share some of these
    visions with you in a bit,
  108. but first I want to take
    a look at how we got here.
  109. By the way, feel free to check
    in on my head at any time.
  110. (Laughter)
  111. My team at InteraXon and I
  112. have been developing thought-controlled
    application for almost a decade now.
  113. In the first phase of development,
  114. we were really enthused by all the things
    we could control with our mind.
  115. We were making things activate,
    light up and work just by thinking.
  116. We were transcending the space
    between the mind and the device.
  117. We brought to life a vast array
    of prototypes and products
  118. that you could control with your mind,
  119. like thought-controlled home appliances
  120. or slot-car games or video games
    or a levitating chair.
  121. We created technology and applications
    that engaged people's imaginations,
  122. and it was really exciting.
  123. And then we were asked to do something
    really big for the Olympics.
  124. We were invited to create
    a massive installation
  125. at the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics,
  126. were used in Vancouver,
  127. got to control the lighting
    on the CN Tower,
  128. the Canadian Parliament
    buildings and Niagara Falls
  129. from all the way across the country
    using their minds.
  130. Over 17 days at the Olympics,
    7,000 visitors from all over the world
  131. actually got to individually
    control the light
  132. from the CN Tower, parliament
    and Niagara in real time
  133. with their minds from across
    the country, 3,000 km away.
  134. So controlling stuff
    with your mind is pretty cool.
  135. But we're always interested in multitiered
    levels of human interaction.
  136. And so we began looking into inventing
    thought-controlled applications
  137. in a more complex frame than just control.
  138. And that was responsiveness.
  139. We realized that we had a system
  140. that allowed technology
    to know something about you.
  141. And it could join
    into the relationship with you.
  142. We created the responsive room
  143. where the lights, music and blinds
    adjusted to your state.
  144. They followed these little shifts
    in your mental activity.
  145. So as you settled into relaxation
    at the end of a hard day,
  146. on the couch in our office,
  147. the music would mellow with you.
  148. When you read, the desk lamp
    would get brighter.
  149. If you nod off, the system would know,
    dimming to darkness as you do.
  150. We then realized that if technology
    could know something about you
  151. and use it to help you,
  152. there's an even more valuable
    application than that.
  153. That you could know
    something about yourself.
  154. We could know sides of ourselves
    that were all but invisible
  155. and come to see things
    that were previously hidden.
  156. Let me show you an example
    of what I'm talking about here.
  157. I do have a video of an application
    I created for the iPad.
  158. So the goal of the original game Zen Bound
    is to wrap a rope around a wooden form.
  159. So you use it with your headset.
  160. The headset connects wirelessly
    to an iPad or a smartphone.
  161. In that headset, you have fabric sensors
    on your forehead and above the ear.
  162. In the original Zen Bound game,
  163. you play it by scrolling
    your fingers over the pad.
  164. In the game that we created, of course,
  165. you control the wooden form
    that's on the screen there with your mind.
  166. As you focus on the wooden form,
  167. it rotates.
  168. The more you focus,
    the faster the rotation.
  169. This is for real.
  170. This is not a fake.
  171. What's really interesting to me though
  172. is at the end of the game, you get stats
    and feedback about how you did.
  173. You have graphs and charts
    that tell you how your brain was doing...
  174. Not just how much rope you used
    or what your high score is,
  175. but what was going on inside of your mind.
  176. And this is valuable feedback
  177. that we can use to understand
    what's going on inside of ourselves.
  178. I like to call this "intra-active."
  179. Normally, we think
    about technology as interactive.
  180. This technology is intra-active.
  181. It understands what's inside of you
  182. and builds a sort
    of responsive relationship
  183. between you and your technology
  184. so that you can use this information
    to move you forward.
  185. So you can use this information
    to understand you in a responsive loop.
  186. For example,
  187. a thought controlled computer
    can teach children with ADD
  188. how to improve their focus.
  189. With ADD, children have a low proportion
    of beta waves, or focus state,
  190. and high proportion of theta states.
  191. So you can create applications
    that reward focused brain states.
  192. So you can imagine kids playing
    video games with their brain waves
  193. and improving their ADD
    symptoms as they do it.
  194. This can be as effective as Ritalin.
  195. Perhaps even more importantly,
  196. thought-controlled computing
    can give children with ADD
  197. insights into their own fluctuating
    mental states,
  198. so they can better understand themselves
    and their learning needs.
  199. The way these children will be able to use
    their new awareness to improve themselves
  200. will upend many of the damaging
    and widespread social stigmas
  201. that people who are diagnosed
    as different are challenged with.
  202. We can peer inside our heads
  203. and interact with what was once
    locked away from us,
  204. what once mystified and separated us.
  205. Brainwave technology can understand us,
    anticipate our emotions
  206. and find the best solutions for our needs.
  207. Imagine this collected
    awareness of the individual
  208. computed and reflected
    across an entire lifespan.
  209. Imagine the insights that you can gain
    from this kind of second sight.
  210. It would be like plugging
    into your own personal Google.
  211. On the subject of Google,
  212. today you can search and tag images
  213. based on the thoughts and feelings
    you had while you watched them.
  214. You can tag pictures
    of baby animals as happy,
  215. or whatever baby animals are to you,
  216. and then you can search that database,
    navigating with your feelings,
  217. rather than the keywords
    that just hint at them.
  218. Or you could tag Facebook photos
  219. with the emotions that you had
    associated with those memories
  220. and then instantly prioritize
    the streams that catch your attention,
  221. just like this.
  222. Humanizing technology
    is about taking what's already natural
  223. about the human-tech experience
  224. and building technology
    seamlessly in tandem with it.
  225. As it aligns with our human behaviors,
  226. it can allow us to make
    better sense of what we do
  227. and, more importantly, why.
  228. Creating a big picture
    out of all the important little details
  229. that make up who we are.
  230. With humanized technology we can monitor
    the quality of your sleep cycles.
  231. When our productivity starts to slacken,
    we can go back to that data
  232. and see how we can make more effective
    balance between work and play.
  233. Do you know what causes fatigue in you
    or what brings out your energetic self,
  234. what triggers cause you to be depressed
  235. or what fun things are going
    to bring you out of that funk?
  236. Imagine if you had access to data
  237. that allowed you to rank
    on a scale of overall happiness
  238. which people in your life
    made you the happiest,
  239. or what activities brought you joy.
  240. Would you make more time for those people?
    Would you prioritize?
  241. Would you get a divorce?
  242. (Laughter)
  243. What thought-controlled computing
    can allow you to do
  244. is build colorful layered
    pictures of our lives.
  245. And with this, we can get the skinny
    on our psychological happenings
  246. and build a story
    of our behaviors over time.
  247. We can begin to see the underlying
    narratives that propel us forward
  248. and tell us about what's going on.
  249. And from this, we can learn
    how to change the plot, the outcome
  250. and the character of our personal stories.
  251. Two millennia ago, those Greeks
    had some powerful insights.
  252. They knew that a fundamental
    piece falls into place
  253. when you start to live
    out their little phrase,
  254. when you come into contact with yourself.
  255. They understood the power
    of human narrative
  256. and the value that we place on humans
    as changing, evolving and growing.
  257. But they understood something
    more fundamental...
  258. The sheer joy in discovery,
  259. the delight and fascination
    that we get from the world
  260. and being ourselves in it;
  261. the richness that we get from seeing,
    feeling and knowing the lives that we are.
  262. My mom's an artist,
  263. and as a child, I'd often see her bring
    things to life with the stroke of a brush.
  264. One moment, it was
    all white space, pure possibility.
  265. The next, it was alive
    with her colorful ideas and expressions.
  266. As I sat easel-side, watching her
    transform canvas after canvas,
  267. I learned that you could
    create your own world.
  268. I learned that our own inner worlds...
  269. Our ideas, emotions and imaginations...
  270. Were, in fact, not bound
    by our brains and bodies.
  271. If you could think it,
    if you could discover it,
  272. you could bring it to life.
  273. To me, thought-controlled computing
  274. is as simple and powerful
    as a paintbrush...
  275. One more tool to unlock and enliven
    the hidden worlds within us.
  276. I look forward to the day
    that I can sit beside you, easel-side,
  277. watching the world that we can create
    with our new toolboxes
  278. and the discoveries
    that we can make about ourselves.
  279. Thank you.
  280. (Applause)