Please Upload Your Brain Now.

Please Upload Your Brain Now.

Please Upload Your Brain Now…or at least that’s what my first hero of science, Ray Kurzweil thinks we will be doing in 2040. He might be wrong (or so his critics believe) but then again he might be spot on. I have been fascinated with my own brain for years. He has spent his life inventing machines that help people, from the blind to dyslexics (me). Indeed, I am writing this article with his software as my undiagnosed for 40 years dyslexia and broken wrist prevents typing [full stop, new paragraph]. Should, by some terrible unpredictable misfortune, Ray Kurzweil died tomorrow (I for one hope he gets to 2040) the obituaries would record an inventor of rare and visionary talent.

I read Kurzweil’s first book, The Age of Intelligent Machines, in 1990. I still have it on my shelf. I was bowled over (and still am) by his future thinking and his thoughts on the brain Within the book, it forecast the demise of the USSR due to new technologies such as mobile phones and fax machines disempowering authoritarian governments by removing state control over the flow of information. Nearly true if you substitute twitter and Facebook. In the book Kurzweil also extrapolated pre-existing trends in the improvement of computer chess software performance to predict that computers would beat the best human players by the year 2000. Yay! In May 1997 chess World Champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue computer in a well-publicised chess tournament.

I think I was one of the first to buy his 2005 book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. By then Kurzweil has become known, above all, as a technology speculator whose predictions have really polarised opinion. He does not get it right all the time of course. As he said at the TED conference in February 2005:

By 2010 computers will disappear. They’ll be so small, they’ll be embedded in our clothing, in our environment. Images will be written directly to our retina, providing full-immersion virtual reality, augmented real reality. We’ll be interacting with virtual personalities.

Nearly, but no big cigar.

Now, he believes we’re on the brink of a new age (again this has been my discussion with multiple academics this week) called the singularity when technology will allow us to email each other objects run as fast as Usain Bolt (for 15 minutes) and even live forever.

Aside from futurology, he is involved in fields such as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He has written books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism. Kurzweil is a public advocate for the futurist and transhumanist movements, as has been displayed in his vast collection of public talks, wherein he has shared his primarily optimistic outlooks on life extension technologies and the future of nanotechnology, robotics, and biotechnology. Is there sense to his science – or is the man who reasons that one day he’ll bring his dad back from the grave just a mad professor peddling a nightmare vision of the future?

Lets go back to my ‘home turf’ of brains. According to Kurzweil, technologists will be creating synthetic neocortexes based on the operating principles of the human neocortex with the primary purpose of extending our own neocortexes. He claims to believe that the neocortex of an adult human consists of approximately 300 million pattern recognisers. He draws on the commonly accepted belief that the primary anatomical difference between humans and other primates that allowed for superior intellectual abilities was the evolution of a larger neocortex.He claims that the six-layered neocortex deals with increasing abstraction from one layer to the next. He says that at the low levels, the neocortex may seem cold and mechanical because it can only make simple decisions, but at the higher levels of the hierarchy, the neocortex is likely to be dealing with concepts like being funny, being sexy, expressing a loving sentiment, creating a poem or understanding a poem, etc.

Indeed he claims to believe that these higher levels of the human neocortex were the enabling factors to permit the human development of language, technology, art, and science,

If the quantitative improvement from primates to humans with the big forehead was the enabling factor to allow for language, technology, art, and science, what kind of qualitative leap can we make with another quantitative increase? Why not go from 300 million pattern recognizers to a billion?

Ray Kurzweil is now 61 and sincerely believes that his own immortality is a realistic proposition. In Kurzweil’s estimation by 2030 we will be able to outsource our brain to:

  • upload the human brain to a computer [cloud]
  • capturing a person’s entire personality [cloudy]
  • all past memories [cloud forecast]
  • every skills and ability
  • their very essence and history

The rest of his timetable he is quite clear on (not in order of date but possibly in my order of achievability):

2025 Reconnaissance Dust: These so-called ‘smart dust’ – tiny devices that are almost invisible but contain sensors, computers and communication capabilities – are already being experimented with.

2035 Nano Assemblers: He says that these three-dimensional printers that can create a physical object from an information file and inexpensive input materials. So we could email a blouse or a toaster or even the toast. There is already an industry of three-dimensional printers, and the resolution of the devices that can be created is getting finer and finer.

2037 Respirocytes: A respirocyte is a nanobot (a blood cell-sized device) that is designed to replace our biological red blood cells but is 1,000 times more capable. If you replaced a portion of your biological red blood cells with these robotic versions you could do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or sit at the bottom of a swimming pool for four hours.

2040 Transhumans: Humans and non-biological machines will then merge so effectively that the differences between them will no longer matter; and, after that, human intelligence, transformed for the better, will start to expand outward into the universe, around about 2045.With this last prediction, Kurzweil is referring not to any recognisable type of space travel, but to a kind of space infusion. “Intelligence,” he writes, “will begin to saturate the matter and energy in its midst [and] spread out from its origin on Earth.”

2044 Foglets: Foglets are a form of nanobots that can reassemble themselves into a wide variety of objects in the real world, essentially bringing the rapid morphing qualities of virtual reality to real reality.

Of course Kurzweil’s ideas have generated massivecriticism within the scientific community and in certain sections of the media. The very idea of a technological singularity is controversial, while it is a popular concept in science fiction. Lots of academics have voiced skepticism about it’s real-world plausibility. See the this talk by James Stirling Long Now Foundation entitled The Singularity: Your Future as a Black HoleIn the cover article of the December 2010 issue of IEEE Spectrum, John Rennie criticises Kurzweil for several predictions that failed to become manifest by the originally predicted date.

I am more positive about his thoughts and predictions. Why? Well Kurzweil is extremely well informed about technologies in development (and sits of Google X board) and is highly insightful about how they can feed into one another, particularly over the relatively near term. He is very sharp on trends and all his predictions are thought provoking. His unwavering confidence in the law of accelerating returns allows him to shrug off contradictory facts and perspectives as mere temporary inconveniences. But then again haven’t all great scientists and futurologist but thought as arrogant?

He might be wrong by a year here, a decade there sure; but the accelerating returns of technology will sweep them all away en route to a singularity beyond human imagination ruled by one eternal truth: that Ray Kurzweil was, is, and always will be the smartest guy in the room

Well maybe.

Be Amazing Every Day.

Design Thinking Changing Training

Slide08

Training: see what happens now and repeat.


Like a sad dinner-for-one that is sat at the back of the fridge that’s past its sell-by-date, the current prevailing concepts of training are out-dated. I has been superseded by something better and can safely be discarded. Training is a very commonly used word and perhaps it needs refreshing itself. Transformed into a new design led process, by re-imagining, re-designing and inspiring new methodologies. Learning is in many ways a better way to think of this subject, because learning belongs to the learner, whereas training traditionally belongs to the trainer or the organisation. Training (in my opinion) should be about whole person development, not just transferring skills, the traditional interpretation of training at work.

Design Thinking (crash course here) is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems. When Design Thinking is applied to the new paradigm of learning and training, it can draw upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the trainee). A design mindset is not problem-centric; it’s solution focused and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination.
With this in mind, it is good to look for solutions across different platforms and styles of thought. My favourite scientific rapper (there can be only one) is the very wonderful Baba Brinkman. While covering the theory of evolution and the work of Charles Darwin, equates evolution with how he writes his lyrics thus: Performance, Feedback, Revision.

…..and how do human beings (learning and training organisations) ever learn to do anything? Like this:

  • Performance – Feedback – Revision

…..and how do I generally develop my lyricism (training / speaking / inspiring)? Like this:

  • Performance – Feedback – Revision

Because the performance is necessary to change the words (learning) to decide which have an impact and which to send back to the drawing board.

  • Performance (training people to be amazing, by me)
  • Feedback (from trainees and my peers)
  • Revision (the ‘bits’ that have impact are iterated)

Organisations which approach training and development from this standpoint inevitably foster people who perform well and progress. Importantly their good people stay around for long enough to become great at what they do, and to help others become so. Leaders creating future leaders. The best training methods are not necessarily just conveying information, but that can make receiving data or instructions a much more enjoyable experience, which will keep trainees involved and help them retain more information. The process of design thinking for training might look like this visually:


A modified form of this process for training might include these waypoints:

  • Define the Challenge and Agenda. The start is crucial and doesn’t have to be linear after this.Develop a set of powerful questions to surface opportunities, and frame training and learning innovation.
  • Gather Data. Learn how to gather data through qualitative research such as observation (thick data) and storytelling to augment traditional forms of data gathering. Some powerful tools include Journey Mapping, touch-point analysis and value chain analysis.
  • Reframe and Clarify the Challenge. Make sense of research by seeing patterns, themes, and larger relationships between the information. Challenge assumptions and illuminate opportunities latent in the training process.
  • Explore Play and Create Novelty. Giving a safe place to experiment and innovate. Lower the barriers to what can be done, what could be achieved and direction training might go. Technological and ideological events that allow freedom and true innovative experience.
  • Make Learning Fun. Designing from the basis of fun will make a process inspirational. Trainees will not be enthusiastic if training sessions are dry and dull. Few employees respond to or remember complicated concepts or theories; they want to learn practical information about what they can do to get better results today. If they don’t find the message entertaining, they won’t retain it. Using the design process it is possible to use multiple, diverse and different training methods to engage learning for trainees in a variety of ways.
  • Encourage Artful Reflection. Cultivate your intuition and develop aesthetic ways of knowing. The elegant training solution wins in the marketplace.
  • Powerful Visualisation. Develop visual thinking skills to de-code images, and communicate ideas visually. Visual literacy transcends the limitations of language and activates our senses. Training tools include Mind mapping, sketching and painting.
  • Time to Ideate. Learn six idea generation tools to foster shifts in perception, break out of traditional mind-sets, and generate seed ideas for innovation, including Metaphorical thinking, connecting the dots, and Edison’s invention techniques. The new paradigms for training don’t need to re-invent the wheel but under process like meta-cognition (learning to learn).
  • Evaluate and getting Feedback. Identify the criteria you need to evaluate training ideas; learn the distinction between critiquing and criticising an idea; give feedback that enhances creativity rather than crushes it.
  • Encourage Participation. Use the Design Process to understand how facilitation works. Make the session lively by engaging participants in the learning process. In fact, try to spend close to 80 percent of training time on group participation. Encourage everyone in the training session to speak freely and candidly, because learning occurs most readily when feelings are involved.
  • Fast Prototyping. Create a visual tangible representation of your idea and present it to the group for feedback. Create a feasibility and an adoption checklist to get people onboard.
  • Customer Co-creationand Empowerment. Exploring alternative futures with your internal and external training customers.
  • Interim Assessment. Gather early feedback from prototype. Assess outcomes, and refine your project. Develop a set of feedback questions to get the information you need, i.e., does this add value to the trainee or the client?
  • Use Humour and be Playful. Humour helps keep enthusiasm at peak levels. Trainers can make a point more effectively by using humour than by drowning trainees in statistics or theories. Personal, self-deprecating humor is the safest way to go.
  • Roll out and Implementation. Create an action plan and test-drive your innovation plan for training change.
  • Finally Iterate. Assess results, modify and improve, using this framework to drive the cutting edge of training change.
  • Excellence, always. Goes without saying.

From now on, in big letters across the top of your white boards should go the words:

Performance – Feedback – Revision.

Nice.

7 Ways to Improve Your Linkedin Posts

I am 100 Pulses old today!

  • Want more Clients?
  • Want more money?
  • Want more people to read your posts?

Well, in Linkedin terms I thought it might be helpful to describe my experiences, experiments and outcomes. Not every post you write on Publisher is going to get tens of thousands of views. My 100 posts have been viewed 40,000 times, have had thousands of ‘likes’ and spawned much comment (data here).

Wisdom is the result of the distillation of your experiences– Adamus Saint-Germain

I love writing these posts (#1 position in Business is PASSION) and I have only recently found that it was relatively easy to distill one’s knowledge for others. It is also a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise in any given area and that’s a big part of content marketing.

It seems that lots of people are reading my posts. As a result I am getting some new work and reminding others of my areas of excellence. Many readers take time so say thank you and kindly say how much they enjoy reading the posts (thank you!). It is part of my daily ritual to research, think deeply and write these posts. The secret is to get up early.

Here are my 7 key elements for writing and posting on Linkedin:

  1. # 1 Have A Good Title: Coming up with that ideal title doesn’t require enormous creativity. It requires just one thing. You don’t need a mysterious question that begs the reader to click on your title or a sensational headline to compel visitors to click. You just need a number. A number in your title is a great way to get people to click on your blog post. A blog post title with a number (better yet numbers) in it is almost guaranteed to perform better than one without it. In my case (see all figures here) it stimulates the most viewers. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the top posts of all time right here on LinkedIn. They all have a number in their titles. Perhaps one day, blog title number fatigue will set in. But it hasn’t yet.
  2. Use Attractive Images: Visuals show up prominently in the LinkedIn newsfeed as they do everywhere else. Make sure that you use a visual at the top of your blog post that resonates with the professional demographic that make up LinkedIn and try making your own!
  3. Brief and Engaging Business Content (600 words approximately seems to be the average): My posts are on the long side but your posts don’t need to be. I believe that for professionals where time is money, many simply don’t have the time to read through a longer post. Keep it short and simple when possible.According to numbers from LinkedIn 6 out of every 10 LinkedIn users are interested in industry insights. The most demanded type of content among LinkedIn members should be in the front of your mind when you start posting. Insights, in general, are quite popular among users. Second to industry insight, company news appeals to 53 percent of LinkedIn members.
  4. Keywords: Every social network plays around with their news feed or timeline and thus have an algorithm similar to Facebook Edgerank. LinkedIn is no different. LinkedIn has to decide what posts to display on who’s network updates, and I would tend to believe that if you publish too frequently, that might be hurting your chances for maximum impressions for each post.
  5. Timing: I’ve found that downtime during office hours works well for catching people who have a few spare minutes to read; for example, right before work (7-8am), during lunch breaks (11:30am-12:30pm) and right before leaving work for the day (4pm). As for days of the week, I’ve always had the hypothesis that LinkedIn essentially shuts down outside of work hours.
  6. LuckThere is always a degree of luck in anything but remember that cognitive bias can make you think that doing ‘random’ things actually influences the chance of success. Read on here.
  7. Good Marketing / Sharing Strategy for your Post: Using the right channels can significant help the number of views our post gets. Do some analysis and look at the key groups and # hashtags that represent the audience you are writing for, including:
  • Twitter groups and key influencers
  • Facebook timeline and timeline in other groups
  • Google+ hangouts
  • Start a conversation and ask good questions
  • Get the right # and let others find you
  • Get picked up by key groups by being specific.

So in my humble opinion it does pay to be thoughtful about your Linkedin post strategy. With some consideration, changing strategy, testing (firing bullets then cannonballs) and making your own luck, you will get more visibility than you’ve previously had on LinkedIn. That will lead to more engagement, brand recognition and possibly even more business for you.

Be Amazing Every Day

Your Brain Wants

Your brain wants a story. Or gossip. In fact over the last 27,000 years it has been desperate to hear stories and gossip. Evolution has wired our brains for storytelling and how to make use of it. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. Jeremy Hsu foundPersonal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.

Your brain lights up and becomes more active when we hear stories, gossip and metaphors. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures. You know the feeling, when a good friend tells you a story and then two weeks later, you mention the same story to him, as if it was your idea? This is totally normal and at the same time, one of the most powerful ways to get people on board with your ideas and thoughts. Brain scans (fMRI) are revealing what happens inside our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange. Stories and metaphors stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.

Researchers have long known that the so-called classical language regions, like Broca’s area andWernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets and understands written words. What scientists have come to realise in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like lavender,cinnamon and soap, for example, elicit a response not only from the language processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.

An important goal in training and presenting is to engage your audience both at a logical, conscious level and at an emotional, subconscious level. Since the subconscious is really the final decision maker, you want to use techniques that help you communicate with that part of the brain, rather than just addressing the rational, verbal part.

Try this:

An old Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said, “A battle is raging inside me…it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The old man looked at the children with a firm stare. “This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”

They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee replied: “The one you feed.”

For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. We all enjoy a good story, whether it’s a novel, a movie or simply something one of our friends is explaining to us that they’ve experienced. But why do we feel so much more engaged when we hear a narrative about events?

 

A story can put your whole brain to work.

1. A story promotes open not close thinking

2. Stories make complex stuff simple.

3. Stories are familiar.

 

 

 

Now, whenever we hear a story, we want to relate it to one of our existing experiences. That is why metaphors work so well with us. Whilst we are busy searching for a similar experience in our brains, we activate a part called insula, which helps us relate to that same experience of pain, joy, disgust or else. In a really powerful experiment, John Bargh at Yale found that,

Volunteers would meet one of the experimenters, believing that they would be starting the experiment shortly. In reality, the experiment began when the experimenter, seemingly struggling with an armful of folders, asks the volunteer to briefly hold their coffee. As the key experimental manipulation, the coffee was either hot or iced. Subjects then read a description of some individual, and those who had held the warmer cup tended to rate the individual as having a warmer personality, with no change in ratings of other attributes.

We link up metaphors and literal happenings automatically. Everything in our brain is looking for the cause and effect relationship of something we’ve previously experienced. This means, that the frontal cortex – the area of your brain responsible to experience emotions, can’t be activated with certain powerful phrases. It’s something that might be worth remembering when crafting your next story. Storytelling is one of the most powerful techniques we have as humans to communicate and motivate.

Do you remember this story?

The donkey and the farmer.

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.


He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
.

MORAL:


Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt.

The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Take a moment and then read this:

A Carrot, an Egg, and a Cup of Coffee

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the daughter replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything—they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

What makes metaphors and stories so powerful?

  • Metaphors and stories get your audience to think about your ideas in a different way.
  • A well chosen metaphor can symbolise some new insight that you are trying to teach your audience.
  • Visual stories let your audience process ideas in two channels of their brain, creating a deeper impact as they synchronise the visual with the verbal.
  • You can use a metaphor to help a prospect see their own misunderstanding that is keeping them from moving forward with your product or service
  • Because metaphors are creative and thought provoking, they stimulate the subconscious.

Be Amazing Every Day

 

Tim Dingle BSc (Hons), PGCE, MBA, has been involved in education, management and training for the last 30 years. Tim is a former Headmaster of a top school and gained an MBA with a distinction. His dissertation was on body language and Interview skills. He has a unique insight into teaching, leadership and management and has now written 26 books on a variety of topics including motivation, leadership, education, training, communication, interview success and business. His background in management also includes being the Chairman on England Schools Rugby and an active member of the RFU and MCC. His academic pedigree (in Biology, Teaching and Business) combined with his Mediation skills, gained him a place on the Board of the Global Negotiation Insight Institute (which used to be the Harvard Negotiation project). He has lectured all around the world with keynote speeches at many national and international events. His facilitation skills are in constant use for difficult and complex problems. His work in the hospitality sector is making a massive impact and he is dedicated to making everyone feel empowered, successful and making training fun.

 

The BAED Course (Be Amazing Every Day) is a core component with individual units on: Eustress (good stress), improved memory, mediation and conflict resolution, the perfect pitch, make it rain referrals, starting with why, excellence always, clear communication, leadership, team-ship, neuro-marketing, the emotional signature, interviews, body language, dealing with risk, rapport, memory, book writing, public speaking, glossophobia and the Physiology of Business.