We have Artificial Intelligence currently. We have multiple A.I., in fact. But is A.I. going to be Jarvis or Skynet?
Futurists can’t agree. Are we going to have the singularity or is artificial intelligence going to be more distributed? I imagine another expression.
Like many futurists, I think there will be an integration of artificial intelligence with organic intelligence. After all, it’s already happening. In fact, we’re a lot more integrated with technology than we think.
When I used to have a question, I would think about it. I would ask others. If the question was still with me, I would ask a librarian for help finding the answer at a library. Now I ask Google.
Since the collection of knowledge in the “cloud,” I no longer store facts and figures. I don’t even have five telephone numbers memorized. Little by little, I’m giving brain function over to machines.
For the first time since we’ve been measuring it, intelligence is actually going down. Scary, right? But it could be for any number of reasons.
We could be getting dumber because we have so much more to learn now. The challenge of this age isn’t a lack of information, it’s a surplus. We could be in information overload.
We could be getting dumber because the measures of intelligence are based on elements we are using less, like memory. Or it could be we are getting dumber because we’re outsourcing as much of our intelligence as possible to computers. Is that necessarily a bad thing?
Could getting dumber be part of an evolutionary process that happened before? Could the next step in evolution be getting even dumber? How can that be smart?
Our bodies are made up cells which make tissues which make organs which make organ systems which make up an organism, namely, us. When we get to the level of organs, these tissues have specialized. They’ve specialized not only in how they look, but how they function.
But their organ function isn’t different than general cellular function. They just take a particular cellular function or functions and do it better than its undifferentiated predecessor. But that comes at a cost.
An organ is really good at one particular cellular function but far worse in function at the rest of the cellular functions. When it specializes, it becomes more dependent on the other organs in order to overall function to be maintained. The liver can only do its job if the lungs are doing their job. And I think this has a lot to do with our interaction with technology.
We’ve built technology which act as our external organs. Technology specializes beyond our organic capabilities. And we have a biological reaction to this.
Whatever technology specializes in, we lose functional capacity. We become dumber in that area. But in what area do we get smarter?
There is likely no area that a machine can’t become smarter than us. We might make them so smart that they can make themselves even smarter. That, of course, informs what we need to become smarter at.
The first thing we need to become smarter at it using technology. We need to maximize our literacy on existing and emerging platforms. We need to be comfortable with every interface, one especially.
Humans are notoriously bad in two directions. We’re not very good at understanding ourselves. We’re not very good at directing our behavior. (For long time readers, sensation and action, right?)
Studies have demonstrated that we are not good at insight: recognizing our emotional states, our motivations, and predicting our future. Conversely, we’re far better at sensing those elements in other people. But it makes sense. Evolutionarily, we’ve been observant of others far longer than we’ve been observing ourselves.
We’re not very good at changing our behavior: We drink too much. We eat too much. We procrastinate. We don’t do what we believe we need to do.
We are likely the most adaptive organism on the planet. But with our own technological additions to our environment, our environment changing outpaces our ability to adapt with it. But technology can not only put us behind, it can catch us up.
Technology, AI specifically, can teach us to sense better and act better. How? With feedback. That’s how we’re built.
AI can point to elements, both inside and outside of our bodies, that we’re insensitive to. It can help us to know when we can help our feelings and behavior…and when we cannot. Interacting with us, AI can make both organic intelligence and behavior better than it could be without it.
And isn’t that what technology has always been about? Technology makes us better than what we could be without it. AI is the newest opportunity we have to make ourselves better than ever before.
I am either the first or last to get a joke. It depends on the language being spoken. I don’t mean English exactly.
I’m autistic…like really autistic. I don’t nor can’t hide being autistic but I do a good job of hiding how autistic I am. That is until, they speak a language I don’t…and I have to ask for a translation.
In this series, I want to tell you how you and I are both “strangers in a becoming even stranger land.” I want you to embrace your status as an immigrant. And I want us both to learn the language.
In Kevin Kelly’s “THE INEVITABLE…,” he talks about twelve technological trends for our future. A point he makes in the book is that technology will evolve at a faster rate than we can learn how to use it. In many ways, we’ll be technology illiterate.
You may have already experienced this. Are you expert with Vine, Periscope, or SnapChat? If not, you’re lot like an immigrant who doesn’t know the language yet.
You’re in good…and mixed company. We’re all becoming immigrants into what Kelly calls the “technium.” And we’re all going to have to be really good at a couple of things.
In this brave new world, the Technium, that is emerging, there are a couple of things we all have to be good at. And they’re both functions of one thing: adaptation. An organism has to change himself to fit his environment…especially when the organism can’t change the environment.
And being adaptive in the Technium means we have to learn new languages all the time. We have to learn new interfaces all the time. This requires a degree of humility to engage the world when your mind is remade into a beginner.
And as a beginner, you’re at an extreme distance from mastery, even competence. You may feel as though your 10,000 hours or 10 years away from where you need to be. But when you’re “leaning in” to the change of the world, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
We have a movement problem. People can’t do the basics anymore. But what are the basics?
Are they squat, deadlift, bench, and chins? Those are definitely exercise basics, or “Gym Movements.” But what about movement basics?
In our BioMechanics 1 course, we enumerate “Life Movements.” These include things like lying, sitting, standing, and walking. Pretty basic, right? And it extends to things like running, jumping, climbing, carrying, throwing, and catching.
Not only are those life movements basic, they’re primitive. They’re natural. And they’re companies that are capitalizing on “natural movement”…but is that what we should be focused on?
Were we low technology so long that things like throwing a spear, shooting an arrow, and climbing a tree are now necessary for movement health? Doubtful. Yet there are fitness companies that are touting this very thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we evolved on/for flat, predictable surfaces, stairs, air conditioning, etc. Nor do I think we should eschew technology. The degree of our development of technology may be our defining feature as a species.
I think it’s fair to say that what we create is just as natural, just as big a part of our nature…as the nature that created us. But what does that mean for our movement that evolved long ago? The answer lies within a technology far older than spear, swords, and arrows.
Do we need to return to nature? Do we need to return to natural movement? Yes.
In fact, we need to return farther than technology that we created. We need to turn to the technology that crafted us. We need to return to our own nature, our own biology.
Like the best robots of today, our movements are connected to sensors, to senses. Our actions affect our sensations. Our sensations affect our actions. This nature, more so than any geographical nature, is what we need to tune in to.
Just as the simplest of organisms moved away from danger and towards resources, the most complex of organisms do, as well. It’s in their nature. But their complexity makes these behaviors far more effective.
This towards and away become encoded in deeper and deeper levels. While towards and away works for simple organisms in the external environment, towards and away works for more complex organisms on an internal level. You’ve experienced this.
When you’ve had a paper cut and tried to use that injured digit, you feel the pain, and move away from the movement and pressure that makes that pain worse. You’ve also experienced the inverse. You felt like going for a walk and it felt so good you not only walked, you ran. You moved towards what felt good. This towards and away with movement is as “natural” as it gets.
Natural movement isn’t as simple as moving in pre-civilization conditions. Running, jumping, and climbing on dirts, rocks, and sand are a part of our historical nature. Just because those things are natural doesn’t mean they are necessarily good for us right now.
To find out what is good for us requires us to tune in to an even older part of nature. We share this “towards and away” nature with many creatures, even the non-sentient. The problem is that we’ve lost sentience of our nature…which has allowed us to go against it.
We go against our nature when we become inattentive towards how our body is affected by movement. We end up going towards the movement our body is trying to keep us away from. We ignore those signals of pain, slowness, tightness, and weakness. We stay away from those movements our body is telling us to go towards.
If we want to move naturally, we have to go towards the movements that feel good to our body and allow the body to move more. And we have to move away from movements that don’t feel good and don’t allow us to move more. That’s what natural movement really is.
And sometimes moving in geographical nature will help us to move more. But other times, it won’t. You may need to move on concrete, on stairs, or in the gym. Performing movement that helps you to feel better is the most important aspect of “natural movement”…no matter where you do it.
BioFeedback in Practice
In Part 1, we redefined Biofeedback so that its definition was inclusive of this biological based process (in organisms who possess nervous systems).
In Part 2, we’re going to:
Look at the currently accepted practice of Bio(Tech)Feedback
Describe THE MOVEMENT’s approach to BioFeedback
Just for ease of differentiation, I’d like to refer to the current practice as: BioTechFeedback
Let’s review our description of BioTechFeedback:
“Bio(Tech)Feedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems…with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will. Some of the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception.”
I think standard BioTechFeedback practices can be summarized as such:
-Use technological interventions
-to ascertain (physiological) states
-to direction attention towards them
-or take some small action
-in order to change them for the better
If this is how BioTechFeedback works,
Can BioFeedback work without the tech?
M-BioFeedback is based on a few simple premises:
-How one behaves in the external environment affects one’s internal environment
-That effect is either positive or negative
-That effect can be measured
At first glance, THE MOVEMENT’s approach seems quite sparse compared to the Tech heavy current practice of BioFeedback:
-The user performs a behavior
-The user immediately measures his body’s response with his body
-If the response is positive, the user takes that as an indicator to continue the
-If the response is negative, the user takes that as an indicator to discontinue
How we apply this is the Gym is simple.
-We do a movement.
-We measure our range of motion (a neurally mediated response)
-If we get more ROM, we keep doing that movement
-If we get less ROM, we don’t do it
Some of our members have played with other quantities or BioMetrics (physiological measures) such as HRV (heart rate variability), peripheral visual field breadth, etc, but often revert back to ROM…because it so quick and reliable.
Over time, users of this type of BioFeedback find it unnecessary to measure ROM, and shift towards “feel” instead.
-They do a movement
-If it feels good, they keep doing that movement
-If it doesn’t feel good, they don’t
I find it interesting that those with little to no exercise experience who come to testing find it unnecessary to test an exercise to determine its efficacy. They often know having performed the movement if the movement “felt” good or not. This trend of the trained returning to “feel” based and the untrained possessing “feel” is very interesting.
In Psychology, the term “repression” is used to describe not feeling one’s feelings. In bodywork, Hanna (of Somatics work) uses the term “sensorimotor amnesia” which is inclusive of motor patterns lost and not just sensations or metasensations lost that repression addresses. Both terms point to losing the ability sense and feel.
I think one of the most beneficial outcomes to testing movement and performing positively testing movements is that it helps to restore “repressed” sensations, helps in the restoration of lost motions and their related sensations, alleviating this somatic amnesia.
I think THE MOVEMENT’S BioFeedback practices can be summarized as:
-Perform a behavior
-Measure one’s response to the behavior by feel or by quantitative response
-If it feels good or if there is a quantitative increase, the behavior is continued
-If it doesn’t feel good or if there is a quantitative decrease, the behavior is
Why do we do this?
For me, BioFeedback Based Action started as a way of judging the efficacy of my actions. Is this helping my body? Will it help me get out of pain?
But over the months of doing this for myself, I found that I was doing more than before every workout. I wasn’t always lifting more weight, but I was always doing more. I was setting a PR every time.
It’s no accident that this became an evolution in exercise.
It was utilizing an evolutionary effect.
(To be continued in Part 3)
Part 1: Defining BioFeedback
I don’t know if it’s the subject matter or if it’s me, but the start of this article series is a bit on the dry side. But I think the punchline will be well worth the joke. I’ll do my best to make this series a sound investment of your (precious) time.
“The clarity with which a term is defined determines its usefulness.”
–Tony Blauer (adapted)
Whether we are talking about math or communication, good results start with defining one’s terms. In our foundational course, BioMechanics Level 1, we revisit definitions and at times, we redefine terms (but only because it has been necessitated by new information). Oddly, one of the terms that we don’t really spend much time on in the course is the term, “BioFeedback.” With such a simple name, one might think its meaning is self evident. Common applications, though, have obscured its meaning.
If you’re like me, the first image that comes to mind when thinking of BioFeedback entails a person with wires attached to their body. The wires are attached to a computer and the the person is staring intently at its display. A clinician is nearby directing the person’s attention to a simple interface.
That image fits with this definition that Wikipedia provides:
“BioFeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems…with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will. Some of the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception.”
What is described above functions as a description of BioFeedback…
at least in its most common practice (and most common aim).
Is the above description a good reflection of what defines BioFeedback?
Is any description a sufficient definition?
What is BioFeedback?
Let’s look at the word:
and divide it into its parts:
OK, let’s define those parts:
Referring to life.
Simple enough, right?
Now onto feedback.
Again from Wikipedia:
“is a process in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future. As part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop, the event is said to “feed back” into itself.”
OK…so not as easy to understand. Maybe how it applies to you will offer some clarification. Feedback is fundamental to the nervous system…including your nervous system. The human body possesses the most complex nervous system on planet Earth. For all its complexity, the nervous system performs a very simple process. It supplies the organism with both conscious and unconscious sensation and motion.
The relationship between sensation and motion is unique. It is coupled – both anatomically and physiologically. This coupling allows one to affect the other. To use the term du jour, they “feedback” into each other (and in some instances, back into themselves through recursion). To put it more simply:
Feeling affects Doing
Doing affects Feeling
To truly understand BioFeedback, I think it’s necessary to understand where it came from. Let’s take a slight (and short) historical detour. Enter Evolution.
Those organisms without Nervous Systems evolved before those with Nervous Systems. From that we can deduce: Sensation evolved from motion. And sensation’s presence has offered an evolutionary advantage.
Why is that so? Because sensation changes motion. It helps to select for better actions, more adaptive actions, more evolved actions. But sensation couldn’t do that if it weren’t connected to action, if it weren’t coupled to action, if it didn’t feed-back into action.
New data doesn’t just require us to redefine our terms. It requires us to retell our stories. It requires us to retell our own story.
And it came to pass, that
from Motion was begat Sensation
and they fed back into each other
over and over again
developing more and more complex nervous systems.
And when enough Feedback had occurred, humans emerged.
And with it emerged more BioFeedback than ever before.
The very thing that makes you human was built on the back of BioFeedback.
No Biofeedback, no you.
It is your past and it is your future.
That’s how important BioFeedback is.
BioFeedback evolved long before any technology did.
Biofeedback is biological and deserves biologically inclusive definition.
A process in living organisms
in which information obtained about the past, present, or future
collected by “sensorimotion”
affects the past, present, and/or future sensations
as well as present and/or future motions.
(Notice I made some additions to the definition. The brain functions of consciousness, memory, and prediction merit the inclusion.)
In Part 2, we are going to explore the practices of BioFeedback and how THE MOVEMENT’s practice of BioFeedback is so different than (and natural) compared to the more common and far more narrow practice of BioFeedback.
I have ran this idea past some really smart people…
but no one has made it happen, yet.
So I’m just gonna put it out there.
In doing so,
I understand I’m drastically lowering
my odds of profiting from it
but I’m more interested in
the personal benefit of this technology.
What is this tech?
What does it do?
It measures everything.
It inter-relates everything.
It is an external brain.
Should be easy enough to program, right?
We use biofeedback based programming
in the gym
and outside of it.
Each day, we search for areas of life
where we can do more than before.
What kinds of more?
In the gym, it is somewhat easily measured.
Intensity, Density and Volume.
Progress can be determined fairly simply
with minimal math.
I just use my NOTES app on my iPhone.
Outside of the gym,
the metrics are somewhat more ephemeral
but some are accessible
including efficiency and output.
How does one measure that?
Not so sure.
That’s where someone else comes in.
Here is what I can tell you.
In complex systems, order emerges
where things become more predictable.
It seems that progress in one area
potentiates progress in another area(s).
If we had software that could measure everything,
and inter-relate everything,
the end user would spend less time searching
for the next thing to make progress in
because the software will have
already recognized the pattern.
Think of how much time you have spent just looking in the fridge
having no clue what you’re going to eat?
All that time.
It adds up….
and is gone forever.
Time is the most valuable of all resources:
simply because it is non-renewable.
Time is of the utmost importance to me.
I want better time.
I want more of it.
Some would say
time cannot be earned, it can only be spent.
My experience with perpetual progress
has led me to believe
that time can be acquired,
life can be expanded, as well.
I imagine a technology
that can help me better find what is good for me,
saving me time in the present
and earning me time in the future.
I know it’s science fiction now
but I hope it becomes science factual.
I’ve been superficially exposed to a lot of different schools of thoughts.
One of those was Scientology.
Don’t click away.
I’m not a Scientologist.
Nor am I going to try to convince you to be one.
I just want to talk
in a very generic way
about one of their ideas.
I’m going to be imprecise in my terms
which would drive them crazy,
so please forgive me Scientologists.
I am not your enemy.
Please don’t make me your target.
There is an idea in Scientology / Dianetics.
This idea of being emotionally “Clear.”
(That isn’t all “Clear” is to them, btw)
Think of the popular psychology parlance of:
being emotionally (hyper)reactive
Reactivity is something that Scientology/Dianetics Auditors help measure with the E-Meter.
I would like to be clear of being emotionally triggered or hyperreactive to things…
This doesn’t mean indifferent, unaffected or inactive.
This refers more to being emotionally regulated.
What is the optimal level of emotion-ality?
The minimal effective amount to act appropriately.
If you are acting appropriately
and still find yourself to be hyper-emotional,
then consider your problem is not one of action
but rather one of attention.
If what you are attending to isn’t something you can act differently/better on,
then think of it as a signal to think differently,
to focus your attention differently.
What you are focusing on isn’t making you feel better.
What can you focus on that WILL make you feel better?
You can do it…even without an Auditor or an E-Meter.