Dr. Jarrod Lewis-Peacock is a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas Austin. His research focuses on memory, attention, neural decoding, and neurofeedback. Additionally, he is the Principal Investigator at the LewPea Lab, a cognitive neuroscience lab which explores how automatic and controlled processes contribute to goal-directed behavior. He is most famous for stating that forgetting is crucial to a resilience and identity. 

On the topic of resilience, mental health is frequently included in any discussion on resilience. How one defines mental health is murky. There are the obvious avenues: ensure you are getting enough sleep, socializing frequently, etc. Dr. Jarrod Lewis-Peacock’s work argues that memory and forgetfulness should be considered just as much as any of these other characteristics. 

Forgetfulness seems like an odd trait for resilience. Understandable in the aftermath of trauma, otherwise memory appears to be the triumphal trait. After speaking with Dr. Lewis-Peacock the best analogy that comes to mind is that eating is to memorizing as forgetting is to fasting. Both play an integral role in balancing our somatic and neurological processes. 

Our conversation delved into the topics of brains as microprocessors, the effects that patient H.M had to the field of neuroscience, and how novel technologies impact the human capacity to remember. 

It was an absolute pleasure to have Dr. Lewis-Peacock on Resilient Us. Any student of his is fortunate to have his influence over their research. You can reach Dr. Lewis-Peacock and his team via his lab’s webpage, here

As always, please send any show feedback or guest requests to me! 

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AI, Evolutionary Computation, and the Future of Us

Risto Miikkulainen is a professor of neural and evolutionary computation at the University of Texas, Austin. As a researcher of artificial intelligence, his life’s work has ushered in findings and technologies that are aiding in the goal to make machines autonomous. Though not yet a reality, his vision for the future is a world where computers – once built – will update themselves, write their own code, and perpetually learn without any human input.

What does this have to do with resilience? Risto gives a few illuminating examples where AI thrives under adverse conditions. In fact, he argues that high-pressure environments are an essential element to the development of AI. Given that much of AI has been modeled off of the human brain this is remarkable insight to how we also develop.  Moreover, Risto and I talk about how society might remain resilient amidst rapid technological changes. Ultimately, Risto and I agree that much of the fear-mongering conversations surrounding AI are only half the conversation.

He sees a world that’s directly influencing every part of our lives. Meaning, the next wave of technological advancements won’t merely effect the functionalities of your phone. Rather, he sees a world where AI decides the laws we make and even politicians to elect.

While this kind of world seems scary, Risto welcomes the changes. Most importantly, he believes that AI will introduce more independence and greater opportunities for individuals.

Let’s keep the conversation going on the Resilient Us Facebook page. How do you envision the future of humans and AI?

As always, if you have any guest requests or would like to respond to this episode find me on my social channels or reach out to me here