What Could You Do If You Had A Second Brain?

Ask the right questions, the answers will come

All of us work in a knowledge economy. In every facet of our lives, we leverage the internet to communicate with our teams, customers, and to leverage information to deliver our products and services. The internet has become an essential aspect of our lives. It allows us to self-publish, join communities, and search for any piece of information we want with immediate feedback. The foundation of how we use this tool is based on the questions we ask it. The questions determine the results that we get.

Questions in and of themselves are ubiquitous; never ending. There is a way, however, to leverage them. The questions we ask are much more important than the answers we seek. If you’re specifically involved in the tech space, the ability to ask the right questions is the key to continuous innovation. It’s how entrepreneurs stay in the market and thrive. The questions that matter to our teams and to us will consistently remain in flux. It’s simply the nature of things. Change is constant and the rate of change is only going to increase over time.

And because of the internet, there are no barriers to entry to any question we want have answered (with enough work and careful consideration). So could one consider the internet a second brain? Could we leverage the internet on a consistent basis to help us grow in ways no other human has the chance to do?

How do we leverage and maximize the tech in our pockets?

All of us have limitations. But we have a team of millions in our pockets. The devices we use to give us access to a marketplace of ideas, it’s how we decide to use these ideas in practical application that determine success or failure.

Take for example the phone in your pocket. How do use your phone throughout the day? You share aspects of your life, consume content, and connect with people. There are ways, however, to leverage this powerful device (and all of the other ones that we use) to help you achieve your goals. It just depends on how you use the technology at your disposal.

“You can learn anything you want, at any time of the day.” — Tweet this

Our phones allow us to have access to any subject we want. Giving us the ability to expand our mind at all times. There are no limitations to our potential if we consider our phones and all the devices we use, as an extension of our mind. The issue is whether we decided to maximize our tech as tools of distraction or tools for optimizing our minds. Fighting the barrage of content and making sure we’re conscious of the every action that we are doing when we use our phones is really the biggest challenge we have. As a side note: airplane mode on my phone has become my best friend. It helps me ensure that I’m maximizing my team when using my phone.

“Our devices are either the greatest tools for distraction or education.”

Related: Creating Your Own Curriculum For Self-Education After College

The internet is made by people, fostered by people, and used by people

If you could learn anything from anyone, what would you do to get that knowledge? There is no excuse for us not to at least learn about our mental limitations with the web. You may learn better from face to face interactions, and that’s ok. But there are certainly starting points that you can find by leveraging the unlimited amount of potential interactions you can have with a global community. We have access to a networking event for any niche of thought, 24/7.

Leveraging community forums and your expanding networking is easier today than it’s ever been. Ask you shall receive, there are people on social channels and forums who love answering questions. More importantly, there are people out there that need your help and you can assist them with your unique insights. And we have the ability to contact anyone we want to, given they have the time and attention to connect with us.

Everything you interact with stems from the exchange of ideas. The sheer amount of content and data produced in 2012 is a testament to the fact that the internet can be leveraged as your second brain. Here’s an article from the BBC that cites IBM’s study on the amount of data we generated in 2012 (which has increased in order of magnitude each year since). A single person couldn’t produce all of this data, but each and every one of us can use it to augment ourselves past our current limitations. All it takes it leveraging the knowledge shared by other people using the internet.

Related: There Are No Longer Six Degrees of Separation

What are you going to do when Artificial Intelligence more prolific?

Don’t let it replace you, let it empower you.

When the internet is maximized by the capabilities provided by machine learning and big data, its function as a second brain will be even more pronounced. Eventually, AI assistants will be able to optimize your life better than you could do on your own. The key differentiating factor between you and others you consider to be competition in your marketplace won’t be your cognitive abilities or even your teams — it will be your ability to ask better questions. Our devices are completely customizable; our AI assistants will be as well. Not trying to be “woo woo” or nebulous with my predictions, just want us to consider the current possibilities that tech gives us before it advances even more.

A book I recommend reading, and one that gave me this idea of the internet being a second brain is “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom. The book is quite dense but, it provides a deep dive into all of the possibilities of how artificial intelligence will be adopted by society and the questions we should consider, to adapt to the changes AI will bring. One the topics of the book that sticks with me today is how can we use AI (a tool that will potentially learn 20,000 years of knowledge in a single day) to help me learn the things I’d never be able to even know existed and to help me execute on the lessons it provides me. However, since AI isn’t available to us now…we have to consider how to leverage the current state of the internet.

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