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The Scary Way Your Brain is Like ChatGPT

Midjourney prompt: female anime-style head imagining and making connections.

They Are Both Prediction Engines

ChatGPT was trained on 570GB of text data. When you ask it something, it generates its response by predicting one word at a time based on the dataset. In other words, it can only give you an answer based on the data it already has. Guess what else does that? Your brain.

What does this mean for you?

Philosophically, neurologically, and practically speaking, it means you don't consciously decide to do things the way you think you do. Your brain is predicting you should do them based on what you've done before. This wreaks havoc on the discussion of free will, but in our daily lives what's important is . . .

If you want to change your output, you need to change your input. If you want to break maladaptive patterns or stop "attracting all the wrong people," you need to give your brain new options.

Every second of your waking life, your brain is predicting what you should be doing. And because its main function is homeostasis and it's concerned about conserving resources, it takes the path of least resistance. Doing something different for no reason is a waste of precious resources and only happens under novel circumstances.

Your Hippocampus is ChatGPT

When, say, someone walks into the room, your hippocampus, which stores memories and plays a major part in learning and navigation, goes through its inventory in search of a match for the person and what should happen next based on what has happened in the past.

This is just like ChatGPT.

Enter Imagination Training

Your hippocampus has been trained on the data set of . . . your life until this moment. But you can use your imagination to train your hippocampus with new data, starting right now. You don't need to wait until something happens and then consciously (using willpower) try to do something different. You can change your programming and reverse engineer different predictions/outcomes.

Your hippocampus doesn't know the difference between the data it gets from your actual experience and the data it gets from your imagination. It's all information, and it's all relevant to what your brain predicts you will do next.

Let's say you're thinking about what you want to do when you retire, which is 20 years from now. If you don't use your imagination, you'll only be able to future-think what has already happened and what's already in your hippocampus. But if you use your imagination and do some mental time travel, you can immerse yourself in 20-years-from-now, creating a vivid mental movie of your future.

Then, you can think futureback (a term used by the Institute for the Future's Bob Johansen, Joseph Press, and Christine Bullen in their new book, Office Shock), like a futurist does, and plan for the future.

"You can't do it unless you can imagine it." - George Lucas

Join us in April, and learn how to think like a futurist.

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