Everything is not as it seems. Everything has changed since I woke up. The reason? Dr Beau Lotto has shown me that how we perceive things underpins everything that we do, but our perception cannot be trusted. Everything we do is in fact just a reflex based on a memory of what has been useful to us in the past.

Mind-blowing right?

Dr Beau Lotto is a professor of Neuroscience at University London Goldsmiths College and spoke at Cannes Lions 2017 on the subject of why data is meaningless. The title of his session was just a hook to draw an advertising audience however. The real title of his talk should have been, ‘why everything is meaningless’.

Through a series of illusions and neuroscientific experiments, Dr Lotto proved that we project our assumptions, based on our experiences, onto the world around us. This human bias may keep us alive but it doesn’t allow us to see clearly and it acts as a constraint for true technological or creative evolution.

So how can we deviate and see differently?

The answer lies in the questions we ask and the way in which we ask them. We now know that the information we process can be delusional due to our assumptions but principals are adaptable so true insight requires good questioning and our ability to confront uncertainty. Dr Lotto explains:

“Humans hate uncertainty. We hate not knowing. It’s why Uber has been so successful, because instead of the uncertainty of whether your taxi will be late or show-up at all, Uber tells you when your car will be with you and gives you a map so that you can track its journey.

“Fortunately, evolution has provided us with a solution to uncertainty – play. Play is pointless and often dangerous but it is essential because it celebrates uncertainty, encourages diversity, opens us up to a whole range of new possibilities, makes us more co-operative and intrinsically motivated. The reward of skiing is skiing. Play is its own reward and if we add intention to play, you get science, art, music, creativity and technological evolution.”