Wiring Humanity For The Future
Our technologies are on exponential curves …
BUT our inner development is NOT.
This gap slows human progress and is DANGEROUS to our ability to thrive.
Transformative Technology seeks to close the gap. So that our wisdom, awareness, and connection to one another can keep pace with our power.
Transformative Technology is tech specifically designed to elevate mental and emotional wellbeing. It is the intersection of technology, neuroscience, psychology, behavioral science, data and more. From emotion recognition software to meditation apps, from Compassionate AI to Neurostimulation.
We have a simple mission:
1) to support and expand the mental and emotional wellbeing of humans
2) to provide a new mirror, through data, sensors, and feedback to better understand ourselves and others
3) to create new tools to shape our psychology, positively
Our evolutionary and biological fear response SHUTS US DOWN and closes out options. Let’s call it the inner lizard (fight or flight) aka limbic system. Under perceived threat, this ancient wiring reduces our ability to be curious, compassionate, and collaborative.
And connection across groups becomes a high friction exercise.
Day-to-day life, meetings, business deals, government policies…
…all become zero-sum games, and everyone, in some way loses.
If you are watching the data, you’ll see psychological challenges on the rise worldwide — this is not a small problem.
Stress is accelerating globally — across countries and age groups. It can lead to illness and lost productivity. The estimated negative annual impact of stress in the US ALONE is over $300BN.
Loneliness is also accelerating. Loneliness isn’t constrained by age, gender, marital status or job title. In 2010, 40–45% of Americans 45+ felt regularly or frequently lonely. In 2015, 16% of Global Millennials felt lonely every single day.
And in case you think it’s not your problem. Anxiety, stress and loneliness are contagious and transmit via emotional contagion. (Facebook has proven this as well. ) You also pay for it in the part of your taxes that go towards healthcare.
The overall suicide rate in the US rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014. Suicide isn’t a western issue either. It’s a major issue in the developing world. Like everything else — it’s also accelerating.
Even with this, It is truly an extraordinary time to be alive. The last 12 months has been one of the best years in 10 for the advancement of human technical ability.
…but we also saw fear-filled populism sweep the globe.
Clearly, we must have scalable, accessible, affordable means to support mental and emotional wellbeing. Excitingly — due to science & tech, merging the old with the new, and updating approaches to the human mind — these tools are being created.
We are entering a period where the ability to measure, stimulate and influence human psychological state will accelerate dramatically. Simultaneously, focus on understanding the brain has intensified due to funding, neuroscience breakthroughs, and computing power. Greater understanding of either, moves the other along, as the mind shapes the brain and the brain shapes the mind.
So answer this question…what are people willing to do to have more blue and less grey?
They already are doing something…As such, the market for TransTech exists, hidden inside of other markets dedicated to altering our states, changing our lives, making us happier, or trying to fill the “hole” inside.
This is how we see the world for TransTech. On one end, you have people who need support for anxiety, stress, and depression. In the middle, you have those needing skills to navigate happiness, loneliness, connection, compassion, empathy. And on the far side, you have people pushing the limits of human performance and ability through the mind.
My story is this…Four years ago I ran operations for Blizzard China, including World of Warcraft China, a massive business. My org had 70 employees and my departments set the policies that directed the work of 1K people every day.
Then I went on a meditation retreat and had a powerful psychological shift. One, I was incredibly happy — unrelated to circumstance and two, I had little to no psychological fear for an extended period of time. But, not everyone on my retreat had the same result. WHY NOT?
I wanted to understand what had happened to me so that I could scale it — to make happy and fearless widely accessible. To do so required making the subjective, objective and so began my journey.
This journey led me to Dr. Jeffery Martin, my co-founder at the Transformative Technology Lab. And together we went on to build systems and a community around creating new tools to support human psychology.
Through the lab, we track 11 areas of TransTech, and the boundaries between them are blurring. From digital medicine to support cognitive development, to mood management, behavior change and emotion tracking, I see new use cases every day. What’s happening now is far, far beyond the neurofeedback of yesteryear –
…driven like everything by data, AI, medical advances and exponential technology.…
If you go to this website you can see over 200 companies, projects, thought-leaders and scientists who are moving TransTech forward in some way. This is a movement, it is happening now. It is real and not a theory. There are real companies, real entrepreneurs, real scientists working on utilizing tech for mental and emotional use cases. A few quick examples…
And the newest, EQ radio. By measuring your heartbeat and breath, CSAIL device can tell if you’re excited, happy, angry, or sad. EQ-Radio is a new technology that can infer a person’s emotions using wireless signals. It transmits an RF signal and analyzes its reflections off a person’s body to recognize his emotional state (happy, sad, etc.). The key enabler underlying EQ-Radio is a new algorithm for extracting the individual heartbeats from the wireless signal at an accuracy comparable to on-body ECG monitors.
So how will this technology truly enter our lives?
The book Sapiens attributes human dominance, not to intelligence or tool-making, but to the power of imagination and narrative to bind humans in action. Tools alone are not enough to keep our attention and gamification without a story is short-lived. And so ultimately, I believe that the most powerful TransTech will be integrated into the narratives of our lives, because to change what is most human in us, requires that we be close to what made us humanity — the story itself.
This lens on enhanced human psychology is reflected in media and business and is a sign of a collective focus gaining ground. Homo Deus, the sequel to Sapiens, posits that the next great human agenda will be longevity, happiness, and augmentation. Stealing Fire describes the communities combining tech, psychology, neurobiology, and pharmacology to increase flow and other peak states, including “the merge” — where many become one. The interest in augmented human cognition and brain-to-brain communication is growing from Mary Lou Jepsen’s Opnwatr.io, to Brian Johnson’s Kernel, to Elon’s Neuralink, to Facebook’s Building 8.
Sense8, by the same people who brought you the Matrix which one could argue influenced an entire generation, considers that a merged mental and emotional connection between people is biological while Nexus reaches the same outcome via nanobots.
With all of this, one might think that enhancing human minds is new as a major discipline, but that would be wrong. One would only need to go back to the Buddha or to Maslow to see two great approaches, and perhaps keys to retaining our humanity as we begin to upgrade towards the 2nd cognitive revolution.
This query has been going on for a long time in contemplative traditions and is one of the reasons we know that the inner lizard can be tamed, and that the human mind can be free.
Given the relief possible through mind-training it’s no surprise that Google searches on mindfulness continue to increase as people seek more ways to self-manage their psychology.
Many people don’t know that Maslow had another level on his hierarchy called self-transcendence that reaches the same conclusion. So for those of you who are self-actualized, you have one more level to go. (The absolute best way to motivate a Type A is to tell them there’s more, ;-))
TransTech is the natural progression of technology…
…Of asking “what else can it do for us?”
…Of requiring that it do more for us.
So keep these things in mind as these are the trends driving Trans Tech. We believe that TransTech will continue to improve in all the ways that matter most — efficacy, utility, PRIVACY, accessibility, and experience. While there is much to be understood, and more to be proven, momentum is building, which leads to what may be the most important point I have to make.
Our inner landscape is one of the next great frontiers for technology — though not one without traps. In order to use tech, to heal and shape our minds, we will on that journey develop the ability to directly affect our psychology and capacity. When we can turn the knobs and levers of our mind at-will, most likely we will have entered the 2nd great cognitive revolution. (h/t Yuval Harari)
And with that power, if we haven’t matured past the “chasing of sensation” to use the Buddha’s words. Or to use Maslow’s words, if we haven’t realized that the “self” we have actualized (and the way that we think about it) must also go for us to be truly free
If we still have a gaping “hole” that we seek to fill from outside ourselves. Then we face a danger of becoming lost, of losing authority to the very algorithms that will help us engineer our pleasure. So, we must actually “wake-up.” We must finish what the wisdom traditions discovered 1st.
We must actually seek to reach the “end of suffering” and mental liberation of all mankind. The good news is — humans have created maps and described what it feels like to be there. We can modernize the process — accelerated by technology, minus religiosity, and informed by data. We must go all the way to the end point, en masse. We must mature internally to match our power.
Welcome to the next great revolution in technology — human mastery of the mind.
My intention with this article is for you to know what’s happening so that you can support an awakening in your own lives, and for the world, however, wherever you do it.
For there is no more nobler use of technology than to bring peace to the minds of humankind.
If this is what you want to do, or you know of someone who is — please get in touch.