“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells” – Dr. Seuss
It’s not that long ago that I started spending some time on understanding how the human brain functions. My interest to do a deeper dive on the mystery of the brain, was triggered by reading the book ’The Talent Code’ from Daniel Coyle. He writes about scientific research that says that top talent is based on a combination of deep, deliberate practice and passion, instead of a ’natural, innate gift’ that you received at birth. The role of the coach is instrumental for the growth of the talent to world-class level for a number of reasons. Besides creating the right conditions and motivating the individual, the most critical task at hand is to push the person continuously into their sweet spot (or outside their ‘comfort zone’), where growth accelerates and talent blooms.
When you expose yourself to the world of the human brain, you’ll discover that the 1.5 KG organ is made up of 100 billion brain cells or neurons. All those neurons are connected and form complex neural networks. The brain is using these networks to pass on electric signals. The neural networks can get better and better by deep practice. Every time you practice, the neural network part of the brain that supports that activity gets thicker and therefore the electrical signals can ignite and pass on faster and more reliable. Based on research it has been proven that 10.000 hours of deliberate practice can make you a world-class performer in the field of expertise you’re so passionate about. Whether that is music, sports, business, consulting or project management, it doesn’t matter. There is another fascinating aspect of the human brain and its called ‘brain plasticity’. It is the ability of the brain to grow, regrow and reform its connections and functions, and is the heart of learning and of memory.
The United States, Europe and Japan have initiated major multi million dollar ‘brain research’ projects separately, to get a better understanding of the functioning of the brain. It’s an indication that the human brain is becoming more and more a centrepiece of the future of technology and business, and that it may very well become the next big wave of evolution since the rise of the Internet.
Earlier this year there was a publication in The Guardian: “What will happen when the internet of things (IoT) becomes artificially intelligent?”, wherein the author mentions that Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk share a similar concern. They see the combination of AI and IoT as a real existential threat. In other words, situations where the machine can take actions on its own without human intervention may not be acceptable. What if the robot becomes smarter than the human being?
In his book ‘The Future of the Mind’, author Michio Kaku scientists are able to insert a chip into the human brain enabling the person to perform tasks though thought alone, for example surfing the web, read and write email and play video games. He mentioned that perhaps it is a matter of time to insert artificial memories into our brain to learn new subjects.
With all this information, let’s time travel to the future and believe that we are able to insert ‘chips with knowledge and experience’ into our human brain. Be imaginative of how that may work. These chips would help us fast-track into our careers by skipping many of the 10.000 hours of practice. It would help us with instant fixes for any shortcomings. If this is all has become the new reality of the day, what modules of ’neural network implants’ do we want to insert in the brain to be a world-class performing project manager?
Here is an examples of a ’neural network implant’ that came to my mind:
Let’s assume that the project manager is responsible for the delivery of the ‘best of breed’ solution ABC for a client in the manufacturing industry. The candidate has a proven track record of delivering large scale, complex solutions, but has no experience with the particular solution, nor with manufacturing.
In that case, the chip would contain product and industry knowledge and experience from a > people > process > technology > data > analytics > governance perspective. Most likely the chip would be co developed by the software vendor and potentially a system integrator.
One of the business benefits for the client would be that they have now access to a high performing project manager who now has access to the latest and greatest product and industry insights. As a consequence the probability of overall project success increases significantly.
I know that this is a basic example of the future potential of ‘brain chips’, however it is the right time to start thinking about the business application of this emerging technology.
It would be fantastic if you share your creative thinking by responding to my post. What ’neural network chips or implants’ would you consider?
It all seems far away that neuroscience technology is going to impact our work and life and therefore it is a very interesting area to watch. At times we may consider certain insights and solutions to be nonsense. But that something major is going to happen in this area is a given. I would suggest to keep an eye on the outcomes of the projects of the United States (Brain Initiative), Europe (Human Brain Project) and Japan (Brain/MINDS) that have launched in the last few years, and be creative in assessing the future potential.
Bas de Baat
Program Manager Enterprise Applications, PMP©