The Files (Ch. 32) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 032

Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 32. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on November 25, 2018.

I’m thrilled to deliver a bonus episode this weekend! This is to make up for the one we missed earlier in November.

Just one additional news headline for today:

  • The Human Brain is a Time Traveler” published in the New York Times Magazine this weekend. This is a fascinating piece and worth reading several times. It looks at the inner workings of the human brain and how AI might augment or replace our ability to analyze the past and predict the future.
  • In neuroscience in the 1990s, scientists wanted to use scans of the brain’s “resting state” to compare scans of the brain doing certain activities. The theory was that the brain uses different amounts of energy depending on the activity. But it turned out that the brain’s resting state was more active that the brain’s active state.
  • This revelation was “one of the first hints of what would become a revolution in our understanding of human intelligence.”
  • When our brain is resting, it engages in time travel. And that’s unique to being human. Our brain’s ability to time travel is one thing that sets Homo sapiens apart from other mammals. This refers to our ability to go back in time and imagine things that occurred in the past, but also our ability to imagine ourselves in the future and to plan for future prospects.
  • “The seemingly trivial activity of mind-wandering is now believed to play a central role in the brain’s “deep learning,” the mind’s sifting through past experiences, imagining future prospects and assessing them with emotional judgments.”
  • The article examines how AI and machine learning might come to support human decision-making and potentially replace it.
  • For me, one of the more stunning revelations was how our use of smartphones prevent us from entering into the brain’s resting state. Before smartphones, how did we spend our downtime – reflecting on the events of the day or week and planning for the future. What are the consequences of filling all the gaps for human time travel with the use of the smartphone? If time travel is key to our being wise, are we becoming dumber?

Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara had a strange conversation with Fiddler. Let’s find out what happens next.

The views expressed on this podcast are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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