Hacking the brain is both challenging as well as doable, both philosophical as well as practical, both artistic as well as business, both scientific as well as futuristic.
“I think, therefore I am”
As Descartes made us realise: we have the ability to question, to think and to re-think our ideas. This might even be that which makes us human. But how do we question, think and re-think? Scientists have shown that the grey matter inside our heads plays a big role in this all. Artists continue to stimulate our minds, provoke us with new questions and challenge all our ideas. Then again, none of this would have been possible without the continuous technological improvements the developers in this world make possible. But while these disciplines thrive and make new discoveries; what do we really know?
How many of your questions about the mind have been answered? We encourage scientists, artists and developers to delve into the depths of the details, now and in the foreseeable and far of future. However, we were curious what would happen if these experts in different fields combine their powers and work together to realize their common dreams. The biggest question looking for your answers: What if we could hack the brain?!
"We think, therefore we hack"
Every year the Nieuwmarkt is Amsterdams centre for creative brainhacking. The Theatrum Anatomicum, where in the days of Rembrandt we discovered the workings of the human body, we now discover the workings of the human mind.
We challenge you hackers to work in a multidisciplinary team consisting of at least artists, scientist, and developers. We ask expertise in your field, an open mind and an urge to answer ‘what if we could hack the brain?!’ Curious visitors are always welcome too!
The purpose of the hackathon is to explore and extend what is currently possible. We tap into the participants' creativity and create future solutions and scenarios, now.
Hack the Brain
Three full days of brainhacking 24 to 26 June in Amsterdam:
Hack yourself better (or worse)
“What if we could hack the brain?” is what brought 58 hackers and 12 organisers to the Waag last Friday. The first day of the hackathon was all about questions and ideas. This year's hackers were a vibrant mix of artists, scientists and developers. Many hackers arrived with their own ideas on how they wished to hack the brain; some even arrived with preparation, tools or part of a team; all arrived with a lot of enthusiasm and energy. With the abundance of talent and inspiration the first morning ended with 11 teams and at least as many wild ideas.
Friday afternoon was spent turning these wild ideas into wild but also doable brain hacks. The public evening event brought even more ideas and questions and was concluded by Bert van Otten with the wise words: “Science doesn’t cover it all. Art should be part of the process. – Art doesn’t cover it all. Science should be part of the process.”
The Saturday was for prototyping and crazy hard work. By now all teams had a plan and selected a brain measurement tool. This day also the organisers tried to do their own hacks: a science hack (Donders Institute) and an international Cloudbrain connection (Total Active Media, Cloudbrain and NeurotechX). These so-called experts weren't as successful as one might have expected. Let’s put it down to high ambitions and a shortfall of resources, or as Jason put it “If everything succeeds we are not trying hard enough.” We did manage to collect some data and to connect and chat with the simultaneous hackathons in Montreal, Toronto and London. Big plans for next time!
Sunday morning: a slight rise in stress-levels, a lot more caffeine, sugar and vitamine consumption and a big final with the pitches of 11 mind expanding working prototypes! Winners are Bisensorial (1st place), 100% Engaged (2nd place), BAT (3rd place) and Second Brain (Insane-but-might-be-possible-in-some-distant-future-award). My idea is that everyone, from participants to organisers and visitors, came away with new inspiration and an urge to keep on hacking the brain!
Want to know more about the projects? Go to our wiki!
58 participants (artists, scientists & developers) 8 nationalities
8 kinds of hardware
120 apples, 200 cookies, 60 raisin buns, 12 crates of beer, 24 bottles of mineral water, 60 bananas, ...
99 kilo of brain mass
infinite numbers of neuronal connections
Keep an eye on the website as more photo's and stories will be added! And check out Twitter #htb2016.
Hack the Brain Amsterdam is part of two internation brain hacker networks: BrainHack and NeurotechX.
In 2015 we organised an international mind-to-body connection from Amsterdam to Montreal and back. In 2016 we nearly organised a one-to-many international connection from Amsterdam to Montreal, Toronto and London. Soon, we wish to try again to send brainwaves from Amsterdam into BrainCloud and get streamed by many other partners around the world. Amsterdam brainwaves will be visualized and connected to local brainhacks in many different cities, countries and continents!