We shape our brains constantly throughout our lives.
How do we do this?
How do we shape each other?
How does technology shape us?
And how should we shape technology?
Dr Fiona Kerr is investigating these questions and more, as she engages with business leaders, policy-makers, engineers, scientists and thought leaders in a quest to maintain human connection, leverage the transformative power to technology and create quality interaction and partnerships between humans and technologies.
Working in five primary areas of research and consulting, including:
Investigating how humans shape each other, how technology shapes us and how
we should shape technology.
Human and AI
In 2018 Dr Fiona Kerr founded The NeuroTech Institute, an independent body to address the lack of awareness, understanding and research concerning the complex neurophysiological impacts of human interaction with each other, with technology, and through technology. Its ultimate aim is to help to shape quality human-AI partnerships, and increase understanding about the unique advantages offered by both humans and technologies (especially AI), and how and when to combine them.
Cognition of Leadership
One of Fiona’s particular areas of interest is that different styles of leaders have different brains. In particular her research looked at the difference in the brain of the emergent logic leader who builds adaptive organisation’s and creates a flourishing environment, and how this contrasts with the more linear, autocratic leader in terms of how they think and what they do.
Another fascinating aspect of applying neuroplasticity to leading organisations is the iterative nature of change, meaning that the adaptive or emergent logic’ leader not only changes their own brain over time through a capacity for metacognitive maturation, but also changes those of the people they lead.
Understanding the complex, connected and emergent nature of an organisation as a system, and how to structure and shape it, allows such leaders to steer that organisation into adaptivity.
Fiona’s thesis is based on more than twenty five years of experience in industry.
Combining the lens of complex systems engineering with that of cognitive neuroscience it is the perfect basis for understanding how the system works, whether it is a human brain, an artificial neural network, an organisation or a society.
Understanding the emergent and connected nature of complexity enhances the capacity to steer and shape progress and direction, and is another underlying component of Fiona’s work. In shaping adaptive organisations and creative bureaucracies, a key part of the work is building the capacity for adaptation and an understanding of what drives behaviour. Such tools as complexity mapping and ecosystem platform creation allows visibility of how things are connected, what is reinforcing outcomes and where to concentrate effort in order to leverage change or increase success through intervention and enrichment.
Working at the intersection of systems engineering and neuroscience also results in a different approach to how to create, use and even think about new technologies as there is an iterative process of humans and technology shaping and changing each other continuously as both adapt. Understanding this suggests many exciting new areas for technological exploration, and is critical to creating enduring and beneficial human-tech pairing, such as an app that enables long term behavioural change instead of a short burst of activity that fades out over time.
Government & Industry Consulting
As technologization increases to assist with the speed and reach required in all sectors including government and industry, there is an increasing need to understand the neurophysiology of interaction between both humans and technologies. Such understanding allows the design of new and better tech/AI solutions, and informs improved policy on health, ageing, education, defence and industry. It is also vital for business sectors to understand how to leverage the advantages of all types of resources, and for academic systems to become truly multidisciplinary in their approach to research questions and investment.
To that end Fiona advises and consults to companies and governments, and her work includes policy design in shaping quality human-AI partnerships, building innovation ecosystem platforms and programs; positive ageing and healthcare with increased technologization, and leading complex systems. Over the last ten years this includes government work in Finland, Ireland, South Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and France, and industry engagement including Haighs, SA Water, BT Finance, VTT (Finland), BUPA, CBA and MacQuarie.
Neurogenesis & Neuroplasticity
Fiona believes our brain is an amazing work in progress, shaped by both nature and nurture. Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis refer respectively to our astonishing capacity to grow and to shape our brain as we grow and age.
Understanding this capacity informs how we interact and change each other, how we interact with, and build our technology and crucially, how our technology alters us.
In an ageing world, understanding the differing response of a teenage and an elderly brain has profound implications for learning and information absorption, communication and problem solving.
Whether it’s the armed forces, or Cirque Du Soleil, a greater understanding of Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis has extraordinary potential and promise for how we lead, work, and adapt in complex systems and foster creativity and innovation