Measuring the Mind

Measuring the Mind is investigating the properties unique to human, as opposed to machine, learning

Measuring the Mind is STEER's educational research project investigating uniquely human learning processes.

Increasingly, human beings are relying on machines to support their learning. In previous generations, skills such as remembering facts, sourcing information and performing complex computations were the unique realm of the human mind. Today, machines can replicate such abilities; indeed we rely upon them to do so faster and more accurately than a human can.

The Measuring the Mind project celebrates these advances but believes that increasingly, processes of the mind which cannot be replicated by machines will become important.

Our research suggests that steering cognition may be machine-resistant.

Our reseach has already evidenced that steering cognition contributes to mental health, the ability to learn in the classroom, social and cognitive flexibility in the workplace as well as patterns of social behaviours important in forming relationships.

However, it is the cognitive basis of steering cognition that makes it likely to be machine resistant. Steering cognitive relies on the the capacity of the human mind to create a self-representation. This ability to see ourselves as a 'self' in relation to 'an other' relies on a kind of neural processing cognitive scientists do not yet fully understand. More straightforward neural processing, for example, allows us to add up difficult sums, or perform complex calculations. Machines copy this kind of processing. It is sometimes called algorithmic processing and computers are programmed through such algorithms, to perform very complex calculations very fast.

There have been rapid advances in machine learning based upon replicating the human ability to perform algorithmic processes. Machines will be likely to exceed human cognitive capabilities in algorithmic processing in the next few years. This will continue to impact industry and economies. Many jobs and professions which rely on routines of algorithmic processing will be increasingly performed by machines. These will include financial and legal services as well as many others.

If human beings are to build a society, economy and industry based on their unique mind, they must understand what processes of their mind are resistant to machine replication. We believe that steering cognition is one of those processes.

That is why we have invested in developing a research programme to understand, measure, and develop it in children from the age of 8 upwards in our schools.

Launched in 2014 as part of the STEER programme, the Measuring the Mind project has already measured 4 million datapoints of uniquely human steering cognition. Over the next 7 years, the Mind.World aims to build a database of 1 billion assessments of aspects of steering cognition.