16 y/o BCI Researcher at Harvard, Stanford, MIT Media Lab 🧠
Autodidactism, engineering luck, and unique life experiences
Recently I’ve been thinking about what makes an impactful individual. It boils down to unique experiences and being an interesting person. Okezue, who I had the pleasure to sit down and chat with on the podcast, is someone who I’d consider as definitely hitting the mark on the “interesting” factor.
Let’s talk about…
🚪How to create opportunities that don’t already exist for you
🧪What research is like at top institutions
🤖Neurorobotics and brain computer interfaces (BCIs)
🎙 Δx podcast
Okezue Bell is a 16-year-old developing biocompatible human and brain-computer interfaces. His first research experience was culturing materials at home. 🧫 Since then, he has gone on to research neuromedical engineering at Harvard 🧠, machine learning at Microsoft and MIT Media Lab 🤖, and computational genetics and genomics at Stanford School of Medicine 🧬.
Some other interesting things he’s done in the past:
Played chess with Garry Kasparov
Developed prosthetics for Sophia the Robot
Working with Leonardo di’Caprio on a climate board
The key? Learning how to engineer opportunities and open doors for unique life experiences. 🔓
This is a timeless skill for anyone looking for unique/meaningful life experiences 👇
💎 Δx takeaways
Imagine this: You’re seeking a cool job/internship/opportunity. You go onto their website, and you discover you don’t meet the criteria either implicitly (experience) or explicitly (age, degrees). You dejectly close the tab and move on. Maybe in the future. 😔
I’m sure everyone has experienced something similar at some point in their lives. This happened to Okezue too, when MIT Media Lab’s website explicitly said no high schoolers. 🚫 Fast forward, and now he’s working on projects at MIT Media Lab — as a high schooler.
How did he still manage to do this? He was unafraid to engineer opportunities for yourself. Here’s how:
✉️ Initial reach out: How you can give other people value, unique perspectives, detailed enough email, why this place specifically
❓ Know what you’re talking about and ask good questions
🤝 Not being afraid to reach out to anyone
These people actually exist in real life… who you can interact with who are actually very open and social. It takes away that feeling that these people who are so far away, but they’re just normal people who have done XYZ.
Another thing I was curious about was how Okezue manages to balance multiple projects/labs simultaneously. ⌚ He discusses his “life hack” of having an Everything document.
We also chatted about his BCI research in greater depth: how Neuralink works on a high level, Turing test problem for robots, and designing prosthetics.
All of our neural processing is done with electricity essentially… so when we can record these chemical signals we can say this range of Hz is correlated with a movement, and whenever we break that threshold we can control the movement of the arm or playing of music.
In the future, robots may be our therapists, clonal copies, or companions. 🤔
I talked to Dr. Hanson about the purpose of these, and the whole idea is that the world has been built for humans so if we create assistive technology, we also have to build systems that can adapt to human behavior, so building humanoid robots is a huge step in that.
📰 Δx change
The state of the world has rapidly changed in the last few weeks. My thoughts and prayers to the people of Ukraine and those affected by the war 💙💛
💻 Hackers in Russian-Ukraine War: The war in Ukraine has provoked an onslaught of cyberattacks by apparent volunteers unlike any that security researchers have seen in previous conflicts, creating widespread disruption, confusion and chaos that researchers fear could provoke more serious attacks by nation-state hackers, escalate the war on the ground or harm civilians.
💊 Hundreds of COVID trials for treatments: The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) ACTIV programme has included more than 30 studies looking at possible treatments. Researchers have developed a handful of options — including two oral antiviral drugs, Paxlovid and molnupiravir, authorized in some countries in the past couple of months — that help in certain situations.
🦠 Largest bacterium ever discovered: Giant microbe from a mangrove could be a missing link between single-celled organisms and the cells that make up humans. Its threadlike single cell is visible to the naked eye, growing up to 2 centimeters—as long as a peanut—and 5000 times bigger than many other microbes.
Enjoy the podcast and newsletter, I’ll see you in the next edition :)