Our Special Role in the Cosmos
Technology extends our thought, our reach, our vision, helps us transcend our boundaries. I think that's a message everybody can get behind.
Jason Silva is the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s #1 rated and Emmy-nominated series, Brain Games, seen in over 100 countries. “A Timothy Leary of the Viral Video Age” was how The Atlantic described television personality, filmmaker and philosopher Silva, who has also been described as “part Timothy Leary, part Ray Kurzweil, and part Neo from ‘The Matrix.’”
A self-professed wonderjunkie, Silva is the creator of the web series SHOTS OF AWE, micro-documentaries exploring creativity, innovation, the co-evolution of human and technology, futurism, metaphysics, existentialism and the human condition.
Silva’s work has been featured in The Economist, Vanity Fair, Forbes and Wired, among many others.
I attended the Singularity University executive program. They had a special session in L.A., so we got to see all the latest cutting-edge biotech, nanotech, AI stuff. I remember seeing the demo of the Google self-driving cars. Did you see the commercial with the blind man and he was being driven around? I mean, unbelievable. I think they said that a million people a year die in auto-related accidents. That will end. I mean, those self-driving cars have been driving 200,000 miles already or more with zero accidents. I mean, unbelievable.
I’m interested, also, in the revolutions in the brain-machine interfaces. You know, increasingly being able to communicate with these extensions of our cognition at the speed of thought, just by thinking -- not even having to do physical action -- so that's very exciting.
Exoskeletons -- people don't like this word, but we already have them. Our automobiles are exoskeletons. Our airplanes are exoskeletons. I mean, these are essentially suits we put on and they extend our reach. The more biologically inspired exoskeletons are helping people that can't walk, walk again. I saw a demonstration of two people in a wheelchair using these exoskeletons to stand up.
This very viscerally conveys how technology extends our thought, our reach, our vision, helps us transcend our boundaries. I think that's a message everybody can get behind. We’re all interested in transcending our boundaries. It’s the one thing mankind has always done from the moment we left the caves and then civilizations and then going to the moon. When somebody says it’s impossible, that's when we say, "Okay, lets go ahead and do it." And it’s romantic. It makes me feel like we have a very special role to play here in the cosmos. You know, we may be small but we are mighty. You know, as Sophocles says, “Manifold the wonders. Nothing towers more wondrous than man.” That's kind of how I feel.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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- Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
- After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
- Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
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