Baroness Greenfield discusses how Information Technology is changing the way humans think and feel. Whilst there are clear benefits, she also highlights the less desirable consequences, and suggests how best to minimise these threats.
The human brain is exquisitely sensitive to the environment. The brain is personalised even in clones (identical twins), as different experiences drive the unique configuration of different brain connections. These connections are constantly changed and updated by continuing experiences. Since the 21st Century is offering unprecedented environmental experiences it is possible that the 21st century human mind may be adapting in unprecedented ways. Biotechnology is blurring the distinction between one generation and another, nanotechnology is blurring the distinction of the body with the outside world, whilst Information Technology is perhaps causing the most immediate and diverse changes to how we think and feel. In this talk we shall see how, accordingly the individual of the future may have: higher IQ; shorter attention span; improved short-term memory; a preference for icons rather than ideas; sensory emphasis rather than cognitive; less empathy; be less risk-averse; have less of a sense of identity. Of these, some are desirable (higher IQ), whilst others are obviously not (less empathy). This talk will explore how to harness the benefits and minimise the threats by being alert to the transition from 'meaning' to experiences, being constructive with risk, promoting recognition of individual and above all devising situations to promote creativity.