Neuroscientist David Eagleman “makes being a scientist look like fun” (The New York Times): he’s a bestselling author, the scientific advisor for HBO’s Westworld, host of PBS’s The Brain, a celebrated TED speaker, and right now, he’s actually helping deaf people hear. In his latest book The Runaway Species, he explains why humans are creative, how creativity works, and offers truly useful strategies for producing great ideas.
Eagleman co-wrote the new Runaway Species with someone who cultivates creativity for a living: composer Anthony Brandt. Using stunning full-color images, they analyze hundreds of samples of human innovation, from Picasso to umbrellas, iPhones to lunar travel, painting a picture of creativity that’s both moving and inspiring—“everyone is creative; it’s part of the basic software we’re all running.” They demonstrate how creativity can be supported in schools, how it can be stoked in the boardroom, how it can improve businesses, institutions, relationships, and ultimately, how an understanding of our capacity for innovation—our deepest and most mysterious gift—can transform, and even save, our world.
In this new excerpt from Wired magazine, Eagleman explains the path of the iPhone, starting with the invention of reel-to-reel tapes in 1924.
“We’re a species with a runaway imagination,” Eagleman says. “As far as we can tell, no other species puts as much effort into exploring imaginary territories as we do.” We often think of creativity as reserved for genuises. Eureka moments, lightning-flashes of inspiration. But in actuality, innovation has always been a process of taking what we’ve got, and “bending, breaking, and blending it,” says Eagleman. “All new ideas evolve from the old; all creativity is based on prior experience; all new ideas have a history.”