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About this section

Emotions, cognition and our senses make each of us human.

This section provides you with concise updates on how advances in brain science (neurons) biotechnology (genes) and IT (bits) are creating new tools to enhance human mental and physical performance.

Among the disciplines coalescing in the field of neurotechnology: genetic engineering, pharmaceuticals, psychology, cellular implantation, physical augmentation, electronic stimulation, and nanotechnology.

Up for discussion and analysis in Brain Waves: the political, economic, ethical, and social forces that will shape the future of one of the most important and fascinating stories of the coming decades.

About this editor

Zack Lynch mugshot
Zack Lynch is an evolutionary biologist, enterprise software marketer, and economic geographer, who has worked over the past decade to understand how technology and society coevolve. In this endeavor he has investigated self-organizing behavior of leaf cutter ants at Finca la Selva, taught classes at UCLA's Anderson School of Business on scenario planning, and analyzed sustainable agriculture at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.

Inspired by these ventures he wrote a master's thesis on how communication technologies will impact human settlement patterns over the next 100 years. This led him to spend several years as VP of Marketing at enterprise software companies - Maxager and Steelwedge.

He is currently writing a book on Neurotechnology and Society. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.

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BRAIN WAVES: neurons, bits & genes

By Zack Lynch

Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2003


Dear readers: 

Yesterday I switched over to a new publishing technology that enables all of you to comment on each post.  During the first 6 hours, over 1000 people visited Brain Waves while over 20 people from across the planet put in their thoughts about the future of competitive advantage.

If you are receiving this as an email, then you are among the several hundred people each day who shares a keen interest in our emerging neurosociety.  I will key in your email addresses (which are always kept private) so you can continue to receive daily updates. 

Thank you for your continued support and interest.  (www.corante.com/brainwaves)

Warm Regards,

Zack Lynch


Posted Friday, October 10, 2003

Neurocompetitive Advantage

Mental health is the ultimate competitive weapon.  Mental health underpins the development of intellectual capital and competitive advantage. It anchors the capacity of employees, managers and executives to think, use ideas, be creative and be productive.  Like never before, businesses depend upon the consistent, sustainable mental performance of their employees.

By enabling a higher level of productivity, neurotechnology represents the next form of competitive advantage beyond information technologyI call this neurocompetitive advantage.  As I mentioned recently, innovation is one ubiquitous organizational process that will be impacted.  Just as workers today leverage information technologies for competitive purposes, workers in the neurotechnology wave (2010-2060) will turn to neuroceuticals to enhance their competitive performance.

As Randall Parker surmises, financial organizations will be the first to leverage neuroceuticals to boost productivity.  He is right on target.  In her seminal work, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, Carlota Perez details how financial institutions have been at the forefront of adopting, testing and disseminating the latest cluster of technologies that have driven each of the previous five techno-economic waves.  This goes all the way back to the water mechanization wave (1770-1820) where banks were among the first organizations to extensively use the penny post.

As more people live longer and global competition intensifies, many people will turn to regulated neuroceuticals as the next set of tools they will adopt to help them survive and succeed. Using cogniceuticals to increase memory retention, emoticeuticals to decrease stress and sensoceuticals to add a meaningful pleasure gradient, neuroceuticals will allow people to compete without being constrained by their neurochemistry. 

An important point: the type of effective neuroceuticals to which I am referring are still at least 10 years away as we still need to brake the brain imaging bottleneck and develop inexpensive biochips for DNA, RNA and protein analysis. Only then will neurotechnology have matured enough to begin influencing all parts of society.

Posted Thursday, October 9, 2003

How far?

Athletes provide a valuable preview of how far humans will go to succeed.  Examples abound of professional athletes exploiting cutting edge technology to excel beyond their competition.  One new device professional athletes are currently adopting in force is The Glove.  The Glove significantly improves physical endurance by accelerating the dissipation of heat from an athlete.  This allows them to rapidly cool their overheated bodies to a temperature where the body’s physiology runs most efficiently.  Invented just a few years ago, The Glove is now regularly used throughout the National Football League to help exhausted running backs regain their stamina between plays.  Is this enablement or enhancement?

Posted Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Accelerating Innovation with Neuroceuticals

As I alluded to in Forecasting Happiness, neuroceuticals will play a prominent role in accelerating productivity across all economic sectors during the neurotechnology wave.  One pervasive process that will be affected is the social process of innovation.  Innovation is a key determinant of organizational success wherein cognitive assessment and emotional compassion combine to accelerate the creation of new knowledge. 

Over the past several decades access to a growing global information web has improved innovation cycle times across every industry.  Over the next decade this trend will continue as social networks (opinions, thoughts and concerns) become embedded across this information sea, creating a knowledge web that is vastly more reliable. 

By improving cognitive clarity and emotional stability , neuroceuticals will make possible new behavioral repertoires that most of us cannot consistently attain today.  For example, enhancing an individual's working memory with cogniceuticals will play a role in extending individual creativity, a critical component of the innovation process.

As different aspects of mental health are better understood, more parts of the innovative process will be impacted such as accelerating learning via cogniceuticals to enhancing interpersonal communication with emoticeuticals. As neuroceutical usage spreads across industries it will create a new economic “playing field” wherein individuals who use neuroceuticals will achieve a higher level of productivity than those who don’t. 

The resulting competitive gap will be substantial. To put this in historical perspective, imagine the competitive advantage that a team living in the year 2003 with the Internet as their information source has over a group living in 1953 that must rely on the local library.

Posted Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Coevolution In the 'Living Code' Pipeline

Sometimes, I'd rather not have a choice.  This is especially true when it comes to two of the nominees for Forbes best Medical blog.  Having spent the past six months watching fellow Corantean's Derek Lowe and Richard Gayle co-evolve their blogs, I've decided to do what I won't be able to do in today's recall election -- vote for 2 people, twice. 

Richard put it perfectly, " I think Derek and I make a useful pair. I tend to gravitate towards early stage, biological, small biotech work while he brings a pre-development/development, chemical, pharmaceutical viewpoint to what he writes."

Their current proteomics discussion is just one of many great examples.  I can't wait for them to discuss audioceuticals

In this case 1+1 clearly equals 3.

Posted Monday, October 6, 2003

2003 Nobel Prize in Medicine

Recognizing the importance of brain imaging technologies, the Nobel Assembly has awarded the 2003 Nobel in Medicine to American Paul Lauterbur and Britain's Peter Mansfield for their discoveries on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a painless diagnostic method used by doctors to look inside the bodies of millions of patients every year.

Update: 22,000 MRI's are in use worldwide, and more than 60 million scans had been performed.  More.

Posted Thursday, October 2, 2003

Pain, Pleasure and Postrel (Part 2)

Pain:  12pm - Writing so much I'm going to see my chiropractor today.

Pleasure:  4pm - Neuroethics discussion on "What's Wrong With Improving our Brains?" at Stanford with Arthur Caplan (see last part of post), along with Richard and Wrye from CCLE.

Postrel:  7pm - Virginia Postrel in her ONLY Bay Area appearance at the Stanford Book Store talking about her new book, The Substance of Style.  Looking forward to having dinner with Ross after.

PPP- Part 1

Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Gibson Knows

Six months after starting it, he stopped.  Blogging broke William's train of thought.

Found your way down here on the page and looking for more? Check out our archives.

Copyright 2003 Zack Lynch. All rights reserved. Terms of use

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