Losing our brains with disruptive technologies (VI): Hear-Listen S.V.P.
Have a beautiful third week of January 2020. As promised last week, today it is the turn to explore the hearing technologies. On our “Losing our Brains with disruptive technologies” saga, we have made a little strategic shift. Instead of explaining the key technologies which have affected, are impacting and will smite our future deafness; I will provide the appropriate URL for its deeper conceptualization or details in the bibliography section below. Instead, we will write in a different dimension. Why? We need to illustrate some blind strategic gaps that may be missed otherwise, we need to show you relevant elements connected to our storyline. We don´t want to do the job of our friends at The Verge or Mashable or Medium.com or MIT Technology Review. What Eleonora Escalante Strategy is trying to paint in this canvas is pure strategic philosophy reflection, it progresses beyond the devices or gadgets or the hyper curve Gartner status of the existing and new disruptive technologies. We wish you to leave the short-minded scenery and envision how the usage of these tech advancements are impacting our brains (for better-in the case of medical treatments for those who need help or are disabled; or for worst-in the case of gadgets which are causing us to be sick and lose our brain functions).
In the end, your own judgment is what matters the most. Eleonora Escalante Strategy is simply sharing its spryness, des contrariétés or optimistic contentments in relation to our insatiable and quenchless initiatives to find a parallel robotic system that can replace our brains for the sake of accuracy. Or our insane motives to make money with technology regardless of the consequences to our brains. Many of the technology applications make us lazy and codependent of its usefulness, and unconsciously we are promoting the degeneration of our brains. In the end, is up to you to reflect as a consumer in relation to these matters. Remember, no one forces you to buy what is inconvenient to your brain.
Involution? Some days ago I used the word involution, which means involución in Spanish. In my primary language Spanish (which is how my brain operates for linguistic communication naturally), Involución means reverse movement or evolution of a process. My hypothesis is that all these new technologies are triggering an involution to our brain functions. I believe the wiser from the Reinnasance and beyond had much-developed brains than us. Over the centuries through the utilization of more and more technologies our brains have become lazy, slothful, or otiose. Nowadays, without a calculator or spreadsheet we can´t even make simple problem solving, without software we can´t design or build structures, without YouTube tutorials, we can´t activate our primary brain innovation capacities. Our brains are leaving the stage of trying to become a Leonardo Da Vinci, to become operators of pushbuttons and digital touchscreens. It is very sad. That is why I used the word “Involution”. Generation by generation, we are becoming trapped in our own technology creations, making our brains foolish. A brain without training or intellectual stretching is simply an operator of intelligent machines.
Let´s start our today post. I will begin with the basics of our hearing system.
How our hearing system works?
The ear is the organ of hearing and balance. The parts of the ear include: The Outer ear, the Middle ear, and the Inner ear. Each part of the ear has different components, all together as an orchestra help us to identify the sounds. “Hearing starts with the outer ear. When a sound is made outside the outer ear, the sound waves, or vibrations, travel down the external auditory canal and strike the eardrum (tympanic membrane). The eardrum vibrates. The vibrations are then passed to 3 tiny bones in the middle ear called the ossicles. The ossicles amplify the sound. They send the sound waves to the inner ear and into the fluid-filled hearing organ (cochlea). Once the sound waves reach the inner ear, they are converted into electrical impulses. The auditory nerve sends these impulses to the brain. The brain then translates these electrical impulses as sound“.
Psithurism. Sounds are originated when external actions cause objects to vibrate. For example, the wind pushes the trees to create the forest symphony psithurism or the auditory sensation in our ears of wind whispering through the trees.
Hearing is made possible when the ear and the brain convert sine waves into the experience of sound. As mentioned previously: it is all about transduction of sound waves that travel into the ear, transfer from tissue to bones in the middle ear, and are transformed into fluid waves in the inner ear. The vibrations of these fluid waves stimulate tiny hair cells to generate nerve impulses to the auditory part of the brain. And of course, our brain analyzes these sounds and responds appropriately to them. How fast the waves crash determines the frequency we hear. How high the waves are at the crest dictates their amplitude. High frequencies produce high sounds and low frequencies produce low sounds. Sound waves with large amplitudes are loud and those with small amplitudes are soft.
Our hearing system is capable to filter sounds. Our brains are like a radio scanner and our attention is the station you are listening to. When the external sounds are personally interesting for us, they become perceptually meaningful information that can grab our attention in the middle of other noises. Our hearing system automatically can refine certain sounds above others. It is capable to filter what we want to listen to, and we are able to ignore information sounds we don´t want to hear. And we can do it without hesitation: ignore some sounds and tune in other sounds. Our brains can do this using the hearing system because they are not only well organized but efficient.
The law of Pragnanz. Brains are smart to look for organizational strategies that require the least amount of effort. The Law of Pragnanz is the brain trait that explains why it always looks for the least quantity of travail. When our brains are looking to design and create new technologies, the Pragnanz law is the practical thought process behind it. As a general abstraction: Our brains want to save time and conserve energy for when it is needed. The law of Pragnanz is one of the Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization.
Perceptual Strategies for hearing. Our brains use some perceptual strategies through the senses, including the hearing body part:
- Processing into a group: Our brain tends to group things that look or hear alike or share a common fate.
- Creating maps: Our brain divides the world into meaningful segments.
- Filling the gaps: Our brain looks for wholeness and often fills the missing edges of incomplete figures
- Categorizing into layers: foreground, background, etc.
- Identifying and recognizing: Our brain adds meaning to the sounds it perceives and finds the appropriate context in which it belongs
Our hearing system works with the brain using the latter perceptual strategies too.
Why do we need to refresh these concepts about the hearing system? Simple. The hearing system is vital for our brain functioning. If we lose the hearing we are in deep dirt too. “Hearing loss can manifest at any time throughout life or be present from birth. It has two categories of causes: congenital and acquired”. Deafness at birth can be caused by genetic sicknesses, acquired hearing disorders are of different justifications and magnitudes, including accidents. To heal our hearing systems, common interventions have been designed since WWII, to amplify sounds and, if possible, improve the audibility of speech and other sounds. These interventions include hearing aids, assisting listening devices, aural rehabilitation services, and training to improve communication and coping strategies. There are technologies associated with each of these categories. We have left out the music acoustic technologies, to be analyzed, on the “recreate” art chapter later on.
Hearing Aid Devices. As mentioned in my first paragraph, below I am sharing different hearing aid discoveries. Some are approved by the FDA at several levels (Hearing aids, Assistive Listening Devices, Cochlear Implants, Implantable Middle Ear Hearing Devices, Bone-anchored Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplification Products). Just be aware that hearing aid devices can be external or internal to our ears. I envision that biotech engineers and doctors will eventually try to insert microscopical tiny chips or diminutive devices of micro-sizes, which will be introduced into the tiny ear bones in the future, and probably we are not so far away from that. If you are interested, I recommend to visit and read the below interesting tech web sources, URL hearing devices, bionic hearing gadgets articles, hearing aid company participants in the market, etc.
Final strategic reflection. Aren´t we causing with our headphones and boombox inventions more deaf sicknesses than before? Isn´t it ironic that audiologists and biotech engineers have been busy creating hearing prosthesis and petit gadgets to help the deaf to hear, but at the same time the commercially hearing massive headsets and last state of the art audio holography or tiny microscopic wireless earbuds, or nanotech headphones if used wrongly are causing deafness in the healthy youngsters? Excessive and continuous long term exposure to wireless earbuds will trigger deafness beyond our own imagination in the future.
Thank you. See you on my next post with the Eat and Drink brain actions affected by our tech innovations.
Blessings and thank you for reading to me.
Sources of web-bibliography for you to explore:
Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.
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