One of the prevailing themes of life on planet earth over the last few years has been the idea of information overload. That’s the general consensus of what word combination might work best to describe this ever-growing and disturbing trend. There was a time when watching the nightly news and reading a daily newspaper kept one in the know, at least about the most important topics. But that’s all changed. The hard cold truth is there is no way now to “be in the know”. 15 years ago, in the book We Are the Revolution — Welcome to the Personal Expression Age, I predicted one of the primary Signatures of this coming new age would be “Information Overload”. And so too did a lot of other people. It was obvious, seeing it coming. It’s boiled over now. With no apparent end in sight.
Now that we’re neck deep in the middle of it with no visible signs it will ever change in the future, the real questions are, what are the implications of this trend? What will be the ramifications? And what can we do about it?
If the biggest challenge or most frustrating obstacle to information overload is not being able to keep up with what’s happening in the world, or not being able to learn and know everything one wants to or believes they should…. We can see at least two different methods one might employ to handle it.
One method would be to go small. Or go specific. Focus on your own personal community geographically, demographically, financially, spiritually, socially, etc. and then take it even further — choose a handful of subjects topics issues and industries one is most interested in and then using apps and other forms of media, design a personal information delivering system around this community and these issues, deliberately leaving out a large majority of information one is either not interested in or that doesn’t affect one’s personal or professional life directly.
This is what most people are already doing now…. Using their phone, computer, apps, various media, YouTube, etc. Go small. Go specific. Be deliberate about it. And you may have a chance of not feeling left out all the time. Because at the very least you’ll know about the most important things happening in the world that YOU primarily exist in.
And remember, this is a challenge we are all facing at this time. Every human being on planet earth and elsewhere is suffering from an inability to hear about and know a majority of what’s happening in the world on a day to day basis. There’s just too much happening now.
Another method to deal with this challenge would be to go big. Go really big. Instead of trying to design a personal information delivery system based on your own community and preferences and stuff as much information into your mind on a daily basis as possible, head in the opposite direction. Take a big step back and recognize that life is short, and compared to being dead, it’s a gift, at least while you’re here… there are no real rules to it (despite what everyone around you claims) especially once you discover the secret of all secrets: the goal of our short lives here in human form is to be as happy and enjoy ourselves as much as humanly possible.
From this perspective, one would be hard pressed to want to stuff their mind on a daily basis with every little or even big thing happening in the world around them — even if that world was just their own small community based world filled with their own personal preferences.
This would be akin to tuning in and dropping out in a way. Focusing more on the ontological and cosmological, attempting to connect with the forces at play in and of the universe as much as possible, communing more with one’s own idea of The Divine… on personal well being, on feeling good, on consciousness expansion, on enlightenment. On acknowledging, appreciating and enjoying the gift of life.
From this perspective, from this point of view, the idea of “not keeping up enough with what’s going on in the world” would seem rather shallow and petty.
Regardless of how we eventually come to deal with the challenge of information overload, a prime example of it in today’s world right this very minute: we’ve had three major regional banks in the United States collapse in the last three months, UFOs begin to be openly discussed by the American government and a newly energized China, along with a seemingly ever growing collection of other countries, begin openly challenging the United States as the world’s superpower, and yet we barely speak about these things as a national community.
We do of course… a little. But we’re also engaged in conversation about a hundred other things at the same time. So no one subject no matter how important it might be to us now or in the future gets it’s fair share of coverage or thought.
We’ve also seen the official introduction of long awaited Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the mainstream world of the masses, that alone being a “something” that ten years ago would have had the whole world talking about nothing else for months — the Singularity is actually here now, 25 years earlier than Kurzweil predicted, and now the invention of a mind reading machine that converts human thoughts into text.
Our human society is now moving at a breakneck speed in so many different sectors industries and arenas and in so many different geographical locations around the world that it has become impossible to keep up with everything going on in the minds and workshops of our billions of other human brethren. By the time we’re just beginning to touch the surface of exploring the uses and implications of a mind reading machine, there will be tens of other inventions or world events that will be announced that will require but not receive our full attention.
That’s a symptom or side effect of the kind of freedom and security we now enjoy as a species. And truth be told we are capable of infinitely more. Just watch. Will it reach a point where the freedom for this kind of rampant ingenuity will become dangerous with the potential for self harm or mass self destruction? One might say that just the rapid introduction of artificial intelligence into the hands of hundreds of millions of people overnight already hints at this. And a mind reading machine..?
See below for a copy and paste of the full article by the good folks at 1440. It will take all of us some time to digest and contemplate this latest event…. Of a machine and a set of hardware and software that can read the mind’s thoughts and convert them to text… even at this rudimentary level, it may be the most impactful invention of all time. And the most dangerous.
From a few minutes of contemplation, if we continue to head in this direction, if more and more universities and communities, public and governmental organizations, private corporations, all join the fray and begin investing in, exploring and building out this technology, what comes to mind…
First and foremost it’s the end of privacy as we ever knew it. “Privacy as we know it” ended 20 years ago. Just as we all said it would. With the so-called war on terror, and the ensuing advent of CCTVs on every street corner in the name of safety and security, plus the recent addition of spy-drones buzzing about everywhere we will ever go geographically, physical privacy is gone. For good. And it doesn’t matter where we are, what country we’re in, whether we’re in the mountains or the desert, at this point it’s safe to assume we’re being watched and recorded at all times.
(Do you remember when this was an actual issue people cared about? Privacy? The anger and furor over “being watched all the time”? It is amazing to look back and see how quickly people gave up that fight. If you’re younger and living in the world today where everything you do and everywhere you go is being monitored 24 hours a day, you’d have no idea that this was an actual major issue of the day that people used to fight over. It was. But the people caved. And quickly.)
The kind of privacy we’re talking about here is far more precious and valuable than protecting where our physical body happened to be one shady drunken Friday night. We’re now talking about our MIND. Our thoughts. Even our dreams and our imagination.
We knew it was coming. All dolled up in 1984 cosplay attire. We just didn’t know it would be here so fast. For the defense industry it will be the biggest thing since splitting the atom. Every country in the world will want a hundred of these devices. And they won’t care how much they cost.
The whole world of spy craft will break apart and transform into something entirely different. It won’t matter how you coded the information or the message or who you gave it to or where you hid it or how you delivered it. The fact of the matter is the information will still be in your mind. And sometime very soon, based on the speed at which human technology advances and evolves, it won’t be that difficult to access anything in the mind or in our thoughts.
The idea of civil rights will be rewritten, because they won’t exist in the manner we are accustomed to anymore. We will be told that nothing has changed, that we still have the same right to civil rights that we’ve always had, but just as with privacy over the last 20 years, they will slowly erode in the name of peace, safety and national security.
Our most basic civil right — what we now consider it at least, that of agency over our physical body, will seem quaint compared to having no agency or control over our thoughts. Imagine a time not too long from now when wishing our human body would or could be violated as a trade if it meant protecting the content of our thoughts or mind. Dire and dramatic I know. But now an actual possibility.
Of course there a variety of positive and helpful ramifications that may spring from a mind reading machine. For creatives such as myself I’ve been dreaming of a miraculous technology such as this for decades. A way to tap into what’s in my mind, convert it to text or even pictures and be able to read it and more importantly save it…! There is simply no way that I or anyone else, not even a team of people, can keep up with how fast a creative’s brain works and how fast it creates new information and ideas.
Two primary limits. Typing while I think here. Which I often do. Precisely because of the phenom we’re discussing. After having lived with or inside my mind for the last few decades I can observe that one giant limitation is that my mind processes organizes and sorts current data and then creates new data and new ideas at such a hyper speed that there’s simply no way for me or even a team of people to get it down. Even if we invented a way to give other people access to my mind. Which is another entirely different challenge. Right now I’m the only person who has access to my mind. So when it’s just me trying to dictate and record as many new ideas as I can that are coming out of my mind, I’m only able to get about 10% of them out, typed up or written down or recorded into something. Imagine having a team of five to ten folks all doing it at once. We would definitely be able to get more of it out HERE, out of my mind and into the world. Now imagine if we had a computer doing it. A machine that could process those new ideas as fast as my mind could produce them. It sounds fantastical frankly. Impossible. But we’ve learned that with computers there really are no limits. So yes, just thinking about this and typing it up here excited the hell out of me. Because I’ve been living with this limit for decades. Literally.
Example. Right now I am limited as I compose this essay by nothing else than my fingers and my energy level. My mind has already composed this essay. Hours ago. Finished it. Completely. This essay was done in my mind approximately ten minutes after I first got the idea for it. But here I am three hours into it still typing. And yes I’ve tried dictating audio. And that does work a little bit faster. But then I’m stuck going back and having to edit the whole thing manually due to the technological limitations of dictation software.
With a computer hooked up to my mind spitting out my thoughts as fast as I was thinking them, with no human physical limitations impinging on our ability to produce, we could easily see me writing a few hundred pages a day. More really when you think about it. It would be a dream. A true miracle.
The same applies to writing new songs. At present I am limited to writing approximately 1-2 songs a day. IF I do absolutely nothing else but sit in the same place and work on writing those two new songs. In reality my mind has already finished the songs a few minutes after hearing them in my head and getting the idea for them. But the songs’ completion is always limited by my own physical body limitations. How fast I can play, how fast I can write, how much time patience and energy I hVe in me to sit there hour after hour to do just that one thing.
If instead we had a computer hooked up to my mind reading my thoughts and spitting them out as fast as I was thinking them, we could get that number up to 5-6 new songs per day. Or probably more. 9-10. Simply because we wouldn’t be physically limited by my humanity. The mind has already done all the work. I take a lot of steps on a daily basis to slow it down enough for me to be able to dictate it and get it out of my mind and into the world. Imagine if that were no longer an issue. Again, a marvel. A true miracle.
Obviously this is just the beginning…. The machine and the software is in its infancy stages. The thoughts and ideas that it inspires are infinite. But this is a good start. More later. Article below….
ARTICLE :: Researchers have revealed a new artificial intelligence system capable of translating a person’s brain activity into a continuous stream of text in a noninvasive way for the first time. New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows the brain-computer interface can generate word sequences that recover the meaning of perceived speech, imagined speech, and brain responses while watching silent videos.
Unlike previous language-decoding systems, the new decoder doesn’t rely on surgical implants. The study focused on three participants whose brain activity was measured using an fMRI scanner, which utilizes changes in blood flow to produce brain scans, as they listened to podcasts, thought about stories, and watched short silent films.
A large language model (see 101), similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s Bard, then matched patterns in the participants’ brains to words and phrases they heard and translated the brain’s response to hearing new words into corresponding text. The decoded text is not a word-for-word transcript but rather a gist of a person’s thoughts.