When the first draft of the Human Genome Project came to completion at the turn of the millennium, one of the great surprises was that humans have only about twenty thousand genes. This number came as a surprise to biologists: given the complexity of the brain and the body, it had been assumed that hundreds of thousands of genes would be required. So how does the massively complicated brain, with its eighty-six billion neurons, get built from such a small recipe book? The answer pivots on a clever strategy implemented by the genome: build incompletely and let world experience refine. Thus, for humans at birth, the brain is remarkably unfinished, and interaction with the world is necessary to complete it.
One very exciting part of this livewiring is the brain’s ability to process whatever information it receives… and that we don’t need to limit ourselves to our nature-given senses. How about drone pilots intuitively feeling the drone’s pan, tilt, yaw, and acceleration? How about feeling the direction of magnetic north? How about being able to sense infrared light? David talks about this in his excellent TED talk:
How the brain processes sensory information, and the idea of giving people new senses, is only one part of the book. David sees seven key principles; in his words: