The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Don’t Disrespect The Brain …
April 12, 2011, 6:37 am
Filed under: Comment

So when I was in Seattle, I had the pleasure of talking to Jaron Lanier – whose official title is Partner Architect of the Microsoft eXtreme Computing group but in reality, he should just be called ‘fucking genius’.

This is a guy who has been characterised as one of the top 100 thinkers in the World, one of the top 300 inventors of all time, the person Steven Spielberg turned to when he was making the movie ‘Minority Report’ and the creator of the term ‘Virtual Reality’.

In short, quite clever.

Of course I almost fucked it up because when I first met him, I had no idea who he was so after discussing the quality of the beef burgers at the buffet, I talked about how I loved his hair.

[He has dreads]

God knows what he must of thought, but he was very kind and put up with me … however when I saw him walk out on stage the next day after one of the longest and most impressive intros I’ve ever heard, I died a little inside.

Seriously, I felt like the guy in the cliché Jock movie who tries to pick up some woman at a bar only to find out that she’s his teacher the next day.

Anyway I have to say hearing him talk was an amazing experience … not just because of what he was saying, but in the manner in which he said it.

He was humble, charming, witty and just really engaging … and while I am sure you all know this about him already, I didn’t and he was a definite highlight.

But that aside, it was seeing how his brain worked that I found the most captivating.

There’s a lot of people in adland who think they’re clever … hell, there’s a lot of people in adland that are really clever … but what I loved about listening to Jaron is that while he was talking about issues and insights that were on the edges of human and technological capabilities, he explained it in a way that not only made it easy to understand, but also relevant to every single person in attendance.

When so many people try desperately to show how intelligent they are, here was a guy who was actually trying to downplay it … but then when you’ve been called one of the cleverest people who has ever lived, I don’t suppose you really have to try. Nor care.

But here’s the thing, intelligence without the capability of being understood – either in terms of concept, benefit or relevance – is pointless, which is possibly why my Father used to say people who try hard to be seen as clever are actually demonstrating how they’re not nearly as clever as they think they are.

It’s a lesson that many people in this industry could do with remembering – especially those who think shouting out factoids or percentages is a sign of genius, despite the fact it’s done without context or relevance to the subject, audience or task at hand.

Use It Or Lose It

Anyway, I want to touch on one thing that Jaron said that had a profound effect on me.

He was talking about his love of virtual reality when he casually mentioned one of it’s roles was to see what the brain is really capable of.

His view was that thousands of years ago, there was no language and yet over thousands of years, we [read: our brains] had been able to not just adapt to a new way of communicating, but also develop various forms of it.

In short, he said the brain always had the capacity to learn languages – it just took a long time to get there – which means there are probably many, many more things it can do, learn, uncover however unless we place it in situations and circumstances that represent radical evolution, we may never find out what they are – at least in this life time – and that is the beauty of Virtual Reality, because it can do that … it can collapse the time of evolution.

Now that’s big thinking … like ten trillion times more than the bollocks I spouted at the Creative Circus.

And that leads to my two main points:

1/ Don’t ever just listen to advertising people for thinking/views/concepts and ideas. Infact, you’d be better off listening to them last because way before them should be conversations with Mr and Mrs Average because they can feed you with more potentially valuable insights and perspectives than Mr or Mrs Advertising and their ‘niche lifestyle bubble’ ever could.

2/ Don’t put limits on your imagination when developing ideas because according to Jaron, we all have the capacity to make them normal, even if in some cases, it might take a few thousand years.


66 Comments

You talked about his dreads? What man talks about another mans hair? I’m amazed he didn’t put his back to the wall, call the police and had you ejected from the greatest country on earth.

Comment by Billy Whizz

ever since the fucker worked on salon fucking selectives he became a hair groupie. he should sue someone. as long as its not fucking me.

Comment by andy@cynic

I was in a room full of people in suits & ties or business suits … all of whom were talking in a language I didn’t understand [and I don’t mean ‘American’] … all of whom were looking at me and my Birkenstocked feet as if I was a member of Al Qaeda when suddenly, in walks a fat bloke with dreads who started scoffing burgers as if his life depended on it.

Apart from that immediately being a sign that I’d like him … everyone else were keeping their distance [out of ‘awe’ as I now know] so I went up to say hello and it made sense for me to basically talk about how cool his hair was because there was so fucking much of it … and so different to everything else going on in the room … that to ignore it would have been even more ridiculous.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. Plus he said he liked my Birkies so maybe he’s not as clever as we all think he is.

Comment by Rob

fucking pathetic excuse. and he said he liked your birkies? hes not clever, hes a fucking nutcase.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh. And first.

Comment by Billy Whizz

It’s all downhill from here.

Comment by Rob

Apparently this guy is 50 so the other important question is what sort of white 50 year old man has dreads and why would Rob like them?

Congratulations being first. You must be proud for achieving such an accolade.

Comment by DH

Excellent “build” Dave. The answers are:

1: social outcast. Can you imagine the bullying he got at school?
2: social idiot. Can you remember the mayhem he caused at work?

Thank you and fuck off.

Comment by Billy Whizz

freud in the fucking house.

Comment by andy@cynic

I gave you the heads up about him and you still put your foot in it! Unbelievable.

Comment by John

1) campbell is a thick fuck.
2) youre mental for thinking hed listen to you.
3) youre fucking delusional thinking anyone takes what you say as important. pedantic maybe but fucking important? dont be too fucking depressed, no one on here has anything valuable to say except me and youre still better than campbell even if thats like comparing a ferrari to a fucking shitty tricycle. with fucking stabilisers.

Comment by andy@cynic

and being a groupie to white, dread wearing, oaps isnt going to get you laid.

correction, not going to get you laid with people you would want to get fucking laid by. then at your age beggars cant be fucking choosers can they and the ugly, tech hippy chicks might think the same thing about doing the beast with 2 backs with you. could be worse, could be billy.

Comment by andy@cynic

This might be one of the best – and yet most evil – comments you’ve made in a long time. You are the embodiment of the word ‘Frenemy’.

Comment by Rob

stop fucking flirting with me, it makes me uncomfortable. and if you say i have nice hair i will come and fucking smack you.

Comment by andy@cynic

You evil, evil bastard

Comment by northern

i can rely on you to bring the famous down to earth even if this dread wearing pensioner is as well known to me as the cast of jersey fucking shore. 

if you did that to him, what the fuck did you do to ron howard because you said he was left feeling very fucking awkward after meeting you. 

did you slag off happy days or give him one of those “eat shit” cupcakes? on the brightside it cant be as bad as your social foot in fucking mouth episodes with murdoch and bonham carter, last time you did something i was fucking proud of.

the only thing i agree with because its the only thing i fucking understand is people outside of adland are more fucking interesting than most of the fuckers in it. thats what happens when you dont talk about fucking ads but things that affect fucking choice and love and its got fuck all to do with getting kevin roberts has beens to make you a fucking 30 second ad of puns. 

so did you talk to einsteins bastard love child about queen. please fucking tell me you did. 

i have a picture of the poor bastard in his lab smashing his head against the wall trying to work out the hidden reason why he had some bald english twat come up to him and talk buffet burgers and queen. 

confusing an intellectual is like taking candy from a baby for you isnt it campbell. 

good unintentional fucking work and shockingly half decent but fucking too long as pissing usual post. 

Comment by andy@cynic

You add a completely new definition to the term ‘star fucker’. You’re the Dom Jolly of adland.

Comment by DH

Are you feeling better after that rant?

And I didn’t upset Ron Howard, I simply asked – on behalf of my Mum no less – why his official bio had no mention of his Happy Days days when it was the one thing he’s done that my Mum not only knows him for, but absolutely loved.

You could see tumbleweed fly through the room after I said that. And a lot of nervous eyes. But then he said he’d fix it for my Mum and was generally one of the nicest men alive.

And just for the record, I did not talk about Queen. Not once. I might have some socially stupid moments, but I’m not a total retard. Mind you, I think I was actually wearing a Queen 1979 tour t-shirt … which begs the question, why the hell did Microsoft even invite me, let alone let me in the building.

Comment by Rob

you were wearing a queen tshirt? from 1979? how the fuck did you fit in it and why do you bathe in being the most unfashionable fucker since dame edna shitface?

Comment by andy@cynic

And the Murdoch thing was intentional, there was no foot-in-mouth whatsoever. Same with Gore. However the Bonham Carter “incident” was not one of my best moments and I think it’s better for all concerned if we put a closure to that. Besides, talking about it contravenes my parole.

Comment by Rob

dave is right, you really are a new breed of star fucker.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t feel too embarrassed Robert, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jaron on multiple occasions and unless you talk to him about brain neurons, food, technology or music, he finds it hard to socialize. 2 out of 4 isn’t too bad.

As no one else has mentioned it in the comments, his view on brain capacity is fascinating and gives a more formulated value to the whole premise of virtual reality. He was also one of the people behind Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, one of the best pieces of mass market technology of the past 10 years so he is certainly someone more interesting to listen to than some ad guy who produces nothing other than a blog and a lot of outdated, reformatted opinions. (I’m not talking about you here Rob, you’re one of the good guys most of the time.)

Comment by Bazza

youve turned into one of “them”.

and campbell might have done some shit, even some interesting shit but hes still one of those ad guys who has blog and a lot of outdated, reformatted opinions. its just hes less outdated and less reformatted than the majority of the “rockstar” fuckers out there. not that hes a rockstar, hes not even good enough to be the fucking studio musician for s club fucking 7.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sure you weren’t talking about me Baz. Ha.

Thanks for trying to make me feel better – of course we both know its failed – but thanks anyway.

As for Kinect, it is an amazing piece of kit.

We have used it at work in a number of ways that are genuinely interesting and innovative. When you consider what it allows the average person on the street to do, it’s amazing how it has been able to be produced at such a low price. It’s also [allegedly] the fastest selling piece of consumer electronics in history, which I’m guessing you’ll either dispute or counter saying the exact definition they are using to justify that claim is so narrow that I could have achieved it selling keyrings or something.

Comment by Rob

http://bit.ly/h34GdN

Comment by Rob

I thought it was the fastest selling consumer electronic to make the Xbox crash.

Comment by Bazza

bazza fights dirty. jobs will be proud.

Comment by andy@cynic

Lanier is one of my heroes. He has some amazing ideas about music technology. And, I highly recommend his book, You Are Not A Gadget – it’s the best thing I’ve read on “social media.” and everyday computing.

Comment by Fernando

but does he play queen? no queen. no campbell interest. hes that fucking sad of a twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

The irony is I had read the book and loved it … which makes my whole ‘who are you’ situation even more ridiculous. And stupid.

Comment by Rob

he obviously hadnt met you when he wrote that had he.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m a huge fan about the infinite possibilities of the brain. I tried to have an interview with my mom’s neurosurgeon to talk about the areas of the brain stimulated decades ago and now. I thought I could have many answers about what is happening today. Anyway, I think he never called me back when I said that I was working in adland.

Comment by Jim

he didnt call back because no one in that fucking industry has one.

Comment by andy@cynic

The industry you worked in up until a few months ago?

Comment by Rob

so im perfectly fucking placed to judge it arent i mr fucking smartarse.

Comment by andy@cynic

I didn’t do it for the agency where I worked. I began to investigate after quit. I had experience in another area and I wanted to be a planner so I was motivated to live abroad and try me.

Comment by J

I realized that I said something that nobody was asking me. Can I say that I screwed up.

Comment by J

youve come to the right fucking place to do that.

Comment by andy@cynic

I hadn’t thought about the brains capacity in that way before. Makes so much sense and changes my view on so many things. What a shame it’ll be remembered for your initial interaction with Jaron rather than his perspective or your point about intelligence only being intelligent if it’s understood.

Comment by Pete

Story of my life.

Comment by Rob

that and being a sad fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

A resounding “YES!” to your “intelligence without the capability of being understood…” bit – reminds me of the aphorism, “if you’re not explaining it simply, you’re simply not explaining it.”

Comment by eskimon

Imagine the sex our future selves will be getting with those ” virtual reality comfortzone expansion” tools.. Either mind-blowing or crap as fuck as nobody ever experiences a real body anymore…

Comment by Niko

Just watch the Stallone/Bullock classic “Demolition Man” to know what it’s going to be like in the future. Then kill yourself in a fit of total depression.

Comment by Rob

I prefer Barbarella

Comment by northern

Good morning.

Comment by Marcus

Hello lovely. How are you?

Comment by Rob

Hay fever. Which means I am DYING.

Comment by Marcus

Oh my god, have you called the Man Flu emergency team? Are you getting the round the clock care you deserve?

Comment by Rob

Just read your comment properly. Hay Fever!!!

Gay fever more like.

Oh hang on, you mean MAN Hay Fever … that’s as serious as amputation isn’t it? See comment above then …

Comment by Rob

Great post. Commenting on another man’s hair is a bit…erm, Fabio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabio_Lanzoni

🙂

Comment by Will

If you go to a lecture and know a lot of people in the audience, you’re in the wrong place and you’re probably listening to a simplification of neuroscience and gaming or possibly both.

Comment by John

This from the man that goes to more lectures than anyone I’ve ever known! Bloody good point though … especially the simplification element … though a talk that explains underlying points [rather than the million potential elements that can influence an outcome or should be taken into account for an outcome] ultimately means you can explain benefits to a broader audience who may either see potential they never saw previously or use, that had never been considered.

Comment by Rob

I’ve read his book, it’s very, very good.
There’s nothing wrong with admiring a man’s hair, especially if you have none of your own.

Now, more importantly, my wife hears my second child’s heartbeat this morning.

Comment by northern

So you don’t think there’s anything dodgy in making compliments to another man Northern? That’s handy, especially when you see what I’ve done on Friday.

As for your 2nd delights heartbeat. Excellent news. Are we hoping for a little man or woman or is it the usual, ‘don’t care as long as they’re healthy’? Eitherway, it’s wonderful news and congrats to Mrs NP … though obviously you are worthy of all the real praise or something.

Comment by Rob

this almost slipped past me. tell me youve not written another freddie fucking mercury love post about groper have you. wont your horse cock best mate be jealous? whatever, the rest of us will be fucking sick.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’d like a girl, but I bet Will would like a boy, but if we have another like him I’ll have to pack in swimming and other sporting pursuits, he’s like Incredaboy

Comment by northern

what the fuck has will got to do with it? since when have you been so fucking considerate. bet mrs np doesnt want you to watch youporn but do you stop? do you fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

i have just been told will is your son, not the planner boy who comes on here and wants me to tell him is a cross between a 1980s right on student boy and a golf loving oap. explains a fucking lot, i was wondering what the fuck was going on because i hadnt even had any crack.

sorry to little will for the mistake, i shouldve worked it out when you called him incrediboy. been hanging around you fuckers too long, youre all fucking brain vampires.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy. I am not NP’s son. (I think, though I do like Yorkshire Tea).

Comment by Will

you tell me that now.

Comment by andy@cynic

Made a right tit of yourself haven’t you?

Comment by northern

its all fucking wills fault. fake child will, not little real will.

kids really fuck you up. or trip you up. or somefuckingthing.

Comment by andy@cynic

sorry to be nerdy/serious for a second… rob, do you think mr jaron man might know how quickly can we reprogram social norms through virtual reality spatial/social constructs? you know my current desire to change the world with gaming thing I keep going on about ? [can we solve the israeli/palestine debacle through new life simulation in gaming? or can we recreate a new social dynamic if we recreate life based on feminist principles, say.] he sounds like a cool dude. I’m glad you started the conversation about his hair – it’s obviously a thing fo him too (otherwise it’s be short back’n’sides).

Comment by lauren

while youre at it campbell, ask him how long itll be before virtual reality lets me shag kate beckinsale without getting in shit from the wife. and if dreadboy can virtual reality up the fucking canadian rubble palace id be grateful because the chances mr and mr fucking cowboy will ever get it done is fucking zero.

and what the fuck is wrong with pacman lauren. every fucking thing went tits up when we walked away from the yellow ecstasy tab and now you want grand theft fucking auto to fix wars.

Comment by andy@cynic

nothing is wrong with packman – there’s still a place for him and the missus. I just want grand theft auto to fix wars. is that too much to ask?

Comment by lauren




Comments are closed.