Unlearn Podcast: Tapping into Human Potential with Technology

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Barry O’Reilly on the Unlearn Podcast.  In our conversation, we explored the landscapes of unleashing potential, and how we can harness the power within ourselves. Some of the topics we discussed: Unlearning Limiting Beliefs that Restrict Human Potential: Neuroscience research reveals the brain’s uncanny abilities that operate below our conscious awareness. State of Flow: When people are in rapport, their nervous systems synchronize in measurable ways. The Importance of Healthy Conflict: Conflict seeking and conflict avoiding are not the same thing. You can be someone who doesn’t avoid conflict, who also doesn’t seek it. Games as Collective Storytelling: Games allow new modes of collective mythmaking. Expanding Human Potential with Technology: Each person must first clearly define an inspiring vision for who they want to become, then take committed action to become that best version of themselves. You can listen to our conversation here.

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You may not know that a face is fake…but your brain does

This caught my eye after research showing differences in brain activity between on Zoom or live. Turns out while you may not be able to tell the difference between a “real” or “fake” face… Your brain can. Advances in AI image makers make it hard to distinguish between real and synthetic faces. On top of it, people often see synthetic faces, generated by algorithms, as more trustworthy and average than real faces. Probably because of the averageness. However, EEG studies show a different story. Our brains unconsciously recognize the difference between real and synthetic faces, even when we consciously can’t. This indicates a gap between our conscious perception and the brain’s deeper recognition abilities. Understanding this unconscious detection is important as synthetic face technology becomes more prevalent. It also offers insight into our untapped perceptual abilities. Also, miraculous humans, your biology has the ability to detect fake faces. What if one solution to deep fakes is just to amplify your current abilities? Love, Nichol — Sources: Are you for real? Decoding realistic AI-generated faces from neural activity Something in Your Brain Can Tell When a Face Isn’t Real Follow Robin Kramer for more.  

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The Quest for Authenticity in the Digital Tide

How to be special. I’ve said this before — Technology is like water. Water is fully integrated with life.  It is neither bad nor good. Depending on the context, it can be both.    Technology is the same. We’re swimming in it.   The arrival of the GenAI’s will force us to grow in ways we didn’t expect.   We’re going to have to find our Unique Abilities. OpenAI just released the ability to create AI Agents without code.  This means you can easily set up an AI to help you with any sequence of tasks.  Next is an AgentStore, which means that you can sell this AI Agent to others and make money from it just like the App store.  Just as the Apple Store ignited creativity and a wave of new apps and companies, the GPT store will do the same.  Expect to be able to buy an AI Agent to do every generic task.  If generic tasks get “agented” the only high ground will be the thoughts, creations, feelings, desires, and abilities that only you have.  Dan Sullivan, is a super coach, who at 75 has influenced more coaches than you can imagine. His core principle of Unique Ability has never been more relevant.  Dan believes that every individual has a set of natural talents and a passion that constitutes their Unique Ability.  Unique Ability involves recognizing talents that are marked by superior skill, passion, energy, and the potential for never-ending improvement​​. This is what one loves to do and does best, forming the essence of their identity​​.  He developed this core principle after a project in 1974 where he interviewed people with disabilities, and noticed that the most successful people built their lives around their abilities.  He coaches people to identify and then continuously hone their most unique abilities while adding new ones over time.  He combines this with a principle that 10x goals are easier than 2x.  As Dan tells it, 10x goals help clarify which few activities and relationships are truly important and productive, requiring a mindset shift and letting go of 80% of current activities that don’t contribute to this goal​​.   AI Agents will take the 80% off your hands.  And if you allow it, you can carve out a path that is both fulfilling and suited to your innate strengths, leading to the “truest freedom possible”​​ It also means that to stand out in any way, for any reason, you must discover who you really are. Authenticity will matter more and more.  Our senses will ferret out the difference between a tin-sounding, irritating, high-pitched “personal brand” and the unique you. Once we know that everything is generated, what will capture your attention, will be imperfectly perfect humans.   One of my favorite books in the world is The Great Work of Your Life. The book posits that your dharma is to find what you are here to bring forth. I have read it over and over, in good times and bad.  I have read it while “successful” and “triumphant”–  and found inspiration. And I have read it on my knees, crying and lost —  and found comfort.   From Dharma to Dan, the Age of AI will require you consider this…Why are you here?  What does your soul desire to create?   Who are you, you perfectly imperfect human?  It’s more relevant than ever.   How strange is it that becoming your truest self is the most reasonable response to GenAI?

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The feel of a face-to-face vs Zoom chats

A recent study from Yale shows something interesting: When we talk face-to-face, our brains are super active in areas tied to social interactions. But when we chat on Zoom, this brain activity goes down. We’ve always known that person-to-person chats are special. Our brains are built to pick up on small details from faces during these talks. While Zoom has been helpful in keeping us connected, it doesn’t fully capture the feel of a face-to-face chat. This isn’t about dropping technology. It’s about making it better. As we use tech more and more, we should make sure it helps our natural need to connect with others, not lessen it. Let’s keep pushing for tech that boosts real, human connection. #HumanConnection #Neuroscience #TechFuture Source: Yale Study on “In-Person vs. Zoom Chats”, Imaging Neuroscience, 2023.

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Love doesn’t scale?

Marc Andreessen published his latest manifesto on “Techno-Optimism” Monday morning. Given his influence, it’s worth a read, no matter how you feel about his position. I agree with many points and strongly disagree with others. Here are a few: On nature: His perspective focuses solely on the brute force “overcoming of nature.” Personally, I’ve become a believer in regenerative symbiosis with nature, where technology can help us understand how to achieve greater output and mutual benefits between people and the planet. On human nature: I question his belief that love doesn’t and cannot scale. Why not? We do operate on basic levels when we lack basic needs and mental, emotional, and social health. However, as we move up Maslow’s hierarchy, our motivations can shift. Transformative Tech is the application of technology to enable this evolution, initially discovered by the world’s contemplative traditions but now crucial for all. On human potential: His view only contains a machine-enabled future view of humans.  This is an extension of the “man-as-machine” metaphor to “man-as-computer” and eventually to “human-as-cyborg.”  I question the metaphor.  I think it leads us into a cul-de-sac that looks like it’s going somewhere but ultimately limits our full potential.  There’s nuance though — using machines — and defining oneself as a machine isn’t the same thing.  I fully believe we will use more and more machines, however, I think we’d do well to not make that our identity.   Last, he expresses the view that becoming “fully human” is important, but doesn’t define what that looks like.  I believe that defining this concept in the Age of AI will be the great work of our time. Take a read, let me know what you think.   Love, Nichol   A sample of Marc’s points from the essay: David Friedman points out that people only do things for other people for three reasons – love, money, or force. Love doesn’t scale, so the economy can only run on money or force. The force experiment has been run and found wanting. Let’s stick with money. We believe the techno-capital machine is not anti-human – in fact, it may be the most pro-human thing there is. It serves us. The techno-capital machine works for us. All the machines work for us. We believe intelligence is in an upward spiral – first, as more smart people around the world are recruited into the techno-capital machine; second, as people form symbiotic relationships with machines into new cybernetic systems such as companies and networks; third, as Artificial Intelligence ramps up the capabilities of our machines and ourselves. We believe in Augmented Intelligence just as much as we believe in Artificial Intelligence. Intelligent machines augment intelligent humans, driving a geometric expansion of what humans can do. We believe the natural human drive to make things, to gain territory, to explore the unknown can be channeled productively into building technology. We believe in nature, but we also believe in overcoming nature. We are not primitives, cowering in fear of the lightning bolt. We are the apex predator; the lightning works for us. We believe in fulfilling our potential, becoming fully human – for ourselves, our communities, and our society.

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