ITW Amir Bozorgzadeh - Cofounder & CEO - Virtuleap
Neuroscience-backed Virtual Reality to Improve Your Brain Health and Cognitive Capacities
What will be the next evolutionary leap for the human species?
The little finger less, a 3rd eye behind the head, no more hairs all over the body...?
Before answering the question, I will tell you a story, that of octopuses!
Octopuses are perhaps the second most intelligent animal after humans. Octopuses have remarkable and truly amazing deductive intelligence. One could ask the question: but then why with such intelligence, octopuses do not dominate the world like Man? Why isn't there an ultra-developed underwater empire ruled by octopuses?
At each birth, out of its egg, the octopus is delivered to the underwater world, it is born alone in the middle of the ocean, it discovers the aquatic world and must learn everything "alone" by itself, how to find, choose and hunt its prey, protect and defend itself from predators, recognize its species and reproduce… .
Unlike humans, octopuses do not have a home with parents who protect and educate them, nor an organized society to transmit the knowledge and know-how acquired by previous generations to their children. With each birth, it is an eternal restart of learning! A "reset" of the "game" of evolution!
This very small difference in the mode of reproduction and gestation between Man and the Octopus was the starting point of an evolution which enabled Man to conquer his environment (admittedly, this is not the only reason )!
We understand the importance of learning and teaching the knowledge produced by previous generations, but also the importance of exploration to produce new knowledge through scientific research, but also through the discoveries acquired empirically ie by trial-error-corrections (e.g. through training and practice, you manage to master a technical gesture such as the serve in tennis) or by deductions (e.g. the police inspector who, by observation and cross-checking of facts, manages to deduce who the killer is).
Human being knows it, and Nations and transnational companies engage in fierce competition for the production and possession of knowledge. Because as the saying goes: “Knowledge is power” … in the sense of being able to undertake, to be able to act on one's environment, but also in the sense of governing and reigning over people. And that is why higher education is partitioned, Taylorized. Because producing ultra-specialized beings in terms of their knowledge, but especially from the point of view of their know-how, is less dangerous for the reigning Power than multi-knowledgeable and above all multi-disciplinary, ie multi-competent, beings.
For a country to become developed, it takes 100 years. The three exceptions of the 20th century are South Korea, Israel and Singapore.
When a family, a society and a whole Nation put all their energy on the transmission of knowledge but also on the production of new knowledge ... here is the result, three Nations at the forefront of innovation and prosperity; in these countries, knowledge producers have a very important social status (in South Korea, the most important minister after the 1st minister is the minister of research!).
Conversely, when a family, a society and a Nation put all their energy into enjoying life and consuming frantically... the result is a decadent nation which despises the producers of knowledge (ie its scientists and its entrepreneurs), a nation in moral, economic and social decline!
Putting one's energy into the transmission and production of knowledge is not only virtuous from the point of view of economic return on investment and prosperity; it is also to maintain its people on the rails of evolution in the biological sense!
A bit of futurology: the next evolutionary leap of the human species will be neither a finger less, nor an ear more… but an even more developed intelligence which will surpass everything we know today.
First step: Let's imagine that one day, we manage to map with great precision, the human brain, more exactly to visualize by functional imaging, live-live, the dynamics of the neural connections of the brain, in time and space, and to correlate them to precise functions. Let's imagine that with a helmet equipped with a sensor put on someone's head, we can "see" live on a computer screen what the man or woman guinea pig thinks, thinks not only consciously, but also and above all, what his brain is unconsciously doing (up to 90% of cerebral functioning is done completely unconsciously)!
Research in imaging, mapping and deciphering the brain is progressing very quickly, and one day we will have this view of the mind in real life! But also with the boom in computing and electronics (which also continue to progress rapidly), we have passed another stage, that of the direct connection of neurons with electronic chips for implants placed in the brain and which increase human capacities, first for the handicapped, then one day for anyone who wish to become a Super-Human, an augmented Human.
Second step: since from the brain in operation we can read, translate and transcribe on a screen what is happening there, then we can also consider transferring information, knowledge but also know-how and orders, conscious or unconscious to a recipient brain.
This information or knowledge could be concocted by a third-party experimenter, or come directly from another brain! Imagine that, in a few minutes or hours of transfer from the brain of a Nobel Prize winner in physics, I could selectively receive all of his scientific knowledge (his knowledge), but also and above all, his technical know-how (use of tools, instruments and technologies used by physicists) and therefore acquire competence as a physicist; or as in the Matrix film trilogy, learning kung fu; or extract from the brain of a suspected criminal or terrorist all the information and evidence that the police need without even questioning him verbally!
The True Singularity: those (nations, interest groups, transnational corporations…) who will have such technology, if they only benefit privileged and co-opted humans (for x reasons), can lead to a speciation within the human species, and very soon on Earth we will have two distinct species of humans:
- the super-human species, Homo supra-intelligentia-conexus, where all its members are permanently connected to each other and to a super-computer, and where its members are individually and collectively more intelligent than Homo sapiens.
- and the other species left behind, Homo sapiens which will be considered (by Homo supra-intelligentia-conexus) as primitive (and therefore potentially barbaric or even dangerous, or to be considered as cattle).
This speciation has already begun, those with access from an early age to new information and communication technologies, and evolving in a culturally denser family and social environment, are on the train whose destination is the Super-Human, compared to those who do not have access to it and who have more modest living conditions; no need to live in an isolated tribe deep in the Amazon rainforest, we are already talking about digital illiteracy even in developed countries!
The divergence that is currently happening within humanity can lead to several scenarios:
- Idiocracy: No disruptive technology to increase human intelligence appears, so Man will not be able to respond to issues related to limited resources, overpopulation and pollution, and this is the mass (consisting mainly of pleasure-seekers and frenetic consumers, a population steeped in superstitions and irrational and absurd beliefs) who will prevail, for a generalized leveling down that may go as far as a civilizational collapse.
- Elysium: A breakthrough technology appears to increase human intelligence by connecting brain to brain and connecting with computers and the internet; and this technology is in the hands of a minority who does not share it with the rest of humanity, then a new species of human will be born, this species will dominate the majority Homo sapiens, and will exploit the resources of the Earth for its benefit.
The Third Way: It is therefore necessary, and from today, that those who do not want either the Idiocracy (because you read me and are not in front of reality TV with crisps) and neither the Elysium (because most certainly that neither you nor I will have a place there) commit so that a 3rd way emerges.
This 3rd way will have to allow all the humans who wish it, to have free access, not only to knowledge, but also and above all to know-how. We must go far beyond Wikipedia, the Khan Academy, the Codecademy, e-learning, serious games, MOOCs and SPOCs!
Wikipedia and all the other actors contributing to the sharing and dissemination of knowledge on and via the internet are brilliant and great, but it's not by reading the "organic chemistry" page on Wikipedia (or even a +1000-pages university textbook) that:
1) you will necessarily understand what is written there
2) even if you understand what is written there, it is not by reading this page (or the manual of more than 1000 pages) that you will become an experienced chemist able to manage in a laboratory ... valid remark for page neurosurgery, biochemistry, genetics, nuclear physics... bakery, pastry, carpentry, car mechanics... ect.
This third way will most likely be driven by EdTech startups who will strive to facilitate the learning of knowledge and know-how through full 3D immersion.
Full 3D immersion will give us a learning experience that face-to-face, books and e-Learning can never reach.
3D immersion is not a science fiction scenario, the technologies are already there integrating into commercial solutions at high speed.
And above all, we know that immersion in a virtual universe (100% digital - Metaverse -) or in an augmented reality allows learning just as effective as in IRL (In Real Life)!
Flight simulators for learning to fly and even perfecting have proven the effectiveness of 3D immersion. Professional pilots can perfectly integrate simulator pilot hours into their continuing education counter.
There is no learning (ie long-term memorization) without emotion, and there is no emotion without perception and sensory. The multi-sensory experience (ie recruiting all the senses devoted to external and internal perception of our body) as well as the recruitment and stimulation of our imagination are the key to the effectiveness of learning in 3D immersion. The more your equipment and the universe that you will be offered will mimic what you would have felt, experienced in IRL, not only will the learning be effective, but we can even imagine that it will be better than in IRL because you could live extreme experiences in complete safety, such as with centrifuges that allow apprentice astronauts and fighter pilots to experience the acceleration of gravity during take-off or when changing course.
3D immersion for learning is spreading fast.
One day soon, you will be able to learn all the formal corpus of pastry but also all the gestures of a professional pastry chef thanks to 3D immersion.
One day soon, you will be able to learn all the formal corpus of neurosurgery but also all the gestures of an experienced neurosurgeon thanks to 3D immersion.
That's why I wanted to meet Amir Bozorghzadeh, cofounder & CEO of Virtuleap. He is a visionnaire innovator working with his team to offer you the 3rd Way.
Thanks to Tahereh Pazouki, founder CEO at Magrid for joining us in this episode of E².
Magrid is a startup offering neuroscience-backed digital solutions enabling teaching of maths without words, the n°1 cause of the dropout of maths by primary school children.
E² - Épistémê Entrepreneur