Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

I Dream, Therefore I Buy

Puruesh Chaudhary discusses the likely impact of conscious technology on the future of media and advertising.
Published 10 May, 2024 11:59am

Imagine a world where people access their information by using their thoughts, creating a reality that reflects their cognitive states and preferences, and enhancing their personal experiences. The data generated is a result of a sophisticated relationship between the mind, consciousness, thought, purpose, empathy, authenticity, reciprocity, emotions and awareness.

Cultivating these experiences will create a new understanding of their interactions with the world. Whether these interactions are through virtual reality simulations, augmented reality overlays or interactive narratives, the technology will enable people to become active participants in the storytelling processes, shaping the outcome based on their thoughts and emotions.

‘Conscious technology’ is not a term widely used by governments and remains an ongoing discussion. However, countries are increasingly focusing on advancements in technology with more human-like qualities and the focus on aspects related to consciousness and cognitive processes is evident in several programmes and policies launched by different countries. For example, the China Brain Project focuses on advancing neuroscience and brain-inspired computing, and the US government is investing significantly in AI research to advance capabilities in neurotechnology and cognitive science. Similarly, programmes launched by the EU, such as the European AI Alliance and the Human Brain Project, aim to advance understanding of the brain and develop AI technologies inspired by neural principles. Japan’s Science and Technology Agency and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry support research projects related to AI, brain science, and human-computer interaction.

The academic community too is actively involved in the study of consciousness to better understand human experiences. The University of Arizona offers a course on ‘Consciousness and the Brain’ that explores the relationship between the two. Oxford University’s Centre for Consciousness Studies examines the implications for philosophy, neuroscience and AI, while the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at Sussex University conducts research on consciousness, cognition, and related topics with a focus on neuroscience and computational modelling. Other examples include ‘Creativity and Consciousness Studies’ at the University of Michigan, which is dedicated to the theoretical and applied exploration of the nature and development of human consciousness. Glasgow University offers a course on ‘Consciousness: Brain, Artificial Intelligence, and Subjective Experience’ that introduces students to the relationship between the study of consciousness and AI. The serious attention given to the subject demonstrates a potential pathway where the blurring of boundaries between the digital, physical, and biological worlds is possible.

Targeted dream incubation (TDI) has the potential to shape the future of media by allowing companies to influence consumers’ dreams and increase purchase intention. The Dream Engineering workshop in January 2019, organised by researchers from MIT and Harvard, brought together leading dream researchers to brainstorm new technologies for studying, recording and influencing dreams. While MIT and Harvard researchers have not directly focused on placing advertisements in dreams, their research on dream incubation and TDI contribute to the understanding of these techniques and their potential applications in various fields, including marketing and advertising. These researchers have developed the Dormio device and studied the effects of TDI on creativity and memory. Here, researchers conduct experiments with participants, using the Dormio device to guide dreams towards particular themes by repeating targeted information, enabling the incorporation of this information into dream content. Researchers study the effects of TDI on creativity and memory, demonstrating that TDI at sleep onset increases post-sleep creative performance, and can predict post-sleep memory enhancement. Although this raises ethical and privacy concerns, it could lead to a debate about the regulation of dream advertising and the protection of consumers’ privacy.

In a people-centred economy, media companies are prioritising content that serves the interests of their audience, recognising the importance of local communities and diverse perspectives, and empowering people to take action on the issues that matter to them. Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology will dramatically shape the media landscape, powering immersive experiences and leading to innovative formats.

The BCI data will assist in content creation strategies, advertising placements, and audience targeting.

Today, human experience platforms are using a combination of technologies like affective computing, voice recognition, sentiment analysis, virtual reality, augmented reality, and behavioural data analysis to create personalised, empathetic, and engaging interactions between users and technology. This enables a more human-like interaction that is both natural and intuitive. Companies that are leveraging affective computing, AI and neuroscientific research include: Adobe Experience Platform, Google Cloud Customer Experience Platform, Qualtrics and CultureMonkey. Deloitte, for example, uses affective computing technologies, such as natural language processing, facial expression recognition, eye tracking, and sentiment analysis algorithms within their human experience platforms.

The convergence of technology and human consciousness has sparked a wave of innovation, and as media continues to become increasingly ubiquitous and immersive experiences more prevalent, conscious AI will lead to deeper engagement and connection, creating content that enables a compassionate information environment.

Harnessing insights from neural data can lead to a newfound understanding of the user’s psyche that can foster a sense of empathy and meaningful connection. This scenario is no longer a figment of imagination, but a distant possibility with a transformative impact on media.

Puruesh Chaudhary is an award-winning futures researcher and strategic narrative professional, featured among the world’s top female futurists. She works for AGAHI.