INFINITE FUTURES #0001
Lucid Dreaming & the Workshop of the Future
Hi! My name is Hiro, and I’m a Futurist-in-Residence at O’Shaughnessy Ventures. I’ve worked at multiple companies actively building out the future, such as SpaceX, Tesla, Waymo, and Apple. During my experiences at these companies, I saw the potential that technology can have in creating flourishing futures. As a result, I have many visions for what possible tomorrows could look like. OSV has allowed me the opportunity to showcase these through the OSVerse. (An introduction to the OSVerse, our techno-optimistic sci-fi city, can be found here.)
Here on the Infinite Loops Substack, I am starting a new series, Infinite Futures, focused on techno-optimism. Throughout the series, I will delve into exciting new technologies, spotlight OSV fellows & portfolio companies with exclusive interviews, give sneak peeks of the OSVerse, and more.
Today, we’re diving deep into Prophetic, an OSV portfolio company enabling anyone to lucid dream, before taking a trip to the atelier, a futuristic innovation hub in the heart of the OSVerse.
Prophetic and the Future of Dreaming
with co-founders Eric Wollberg (CEO) and Wesley Louis Berry III (CTO)
OSV portfolio company Prophetic is developing the Halo, a device that will allow anyone to lucid dream.
The combination of ultrasound and machine learning models, created using electroencephalogram (EEG) & functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, allows them to detect when dreamers are in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep to induce and stabilize lucid dreams. They hope to bring about a new era of productivity by allowing people to work and be creative while sleeping and exploring the depths of consciousness. They have developed the groundbreaking design of the Halo (shown below) in collaboration with designer Afshin Mehin’s Card79 (the studio that designed Elon Musk’s Neuralink’s N1 implant).
I spoke with co-founders Eric Wollberg and Wesley Louis Berry III about Prophetic’s origins, the power of lucid dreaming, the future of consciousness, and more. I’ve shared a summary of our conversation below.
Q: What is Prophetic’s origin story?
The idea for Prophetic AI emerged over the last 5-6 years of research into consciousness and lucid dreaming.
Eric’s first lucid dream at age 12 was a phenomenal experience, profoundly influencing his curiosity about reality and consciousness. Inspired by figures like Dr. Stephen LaBerge (a Stanford PhD specializing in lucid dreams) and great thinkers like Einstein, who often found inspiration in dreams, Eric embarked on his journey.
Wes has been interested in startups and emerging technologies since his father got him a Google Glass in high school. Around 2021, his friend got access to OpenAI’s private beta for GPT-3, and Eric trained a model to answer questions like Steve Jobs. He started thinking about the use cases of transformers in other fields, and around the same time, he discovered the Neurosity Crown, an open-sourced EEG headset. He deep-dived into the intersection of the two and, before meeting Eric, was researching focused ultrasound and artistic projects using EEG data.
Eric and Wes were introduced via a mutual friend. During their first meeting, Eric suggested that Wes look into the neuroscience of lucid dreams. Wes dived right in, and the more he researched, the more convinced he became of Eric’s vision. They joined forces to tackle the difficult task of being able to induce lucid dreams in any user.
Q: What is Prophetic’s primary product?
Prophetic is creating the Halo as a product for lucid dream induction and consciousness exploration. This innovative device is designed to induce certain states of consciousness, particularly lucid dreams, enabling users to explore the depths of their minds in new and profound ways. Users can do everything from flying in their dreams to discovering new mathematical theories or making art masterpieces.
The Halo is a product of deep research & development with data from the Donders Institute, a research center based in the Netherlands focused on understanding the human brain better.
Wes has led the cross-disciplinary ultrasonic engineering, electrical engineering, and software teams to develop the product, while the industrial design of the device was led by Afshin Mehin of Card79 (a design studio with a focus on designing world-class neuroengineering products, including Neuralink’s N1 implant).
Q: What motivated Prophetic to develop the Halo?
The motivation stems from a deep interest in epistemological metaphysics and the exploration of fundamental questions like "What is reality?"
The product embodies the idea of navigating these metaphysical realms in a world increasingly skeptical of non-scientific knowledge. It attempts to bridge the gap between scientific understanding and metaphysical exploration.
At the heart of the company, Eric has been a lucid dreamer since he was a teenager, and it has been an experience that has profoundly changed his outlook on the world. He hopes that the whole world can one day experience the wonders of being able to control your dreams.
Q: What are the core technologies being explored at Prophetic?
Prophetic is looking into transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) to induce lucid dreams in users. This means that focused ultrasound waves are beamed through the skull to the prefrontal cortex in a specific region that has been shown to activate in people with lucid dreams. An analogy to this is using a flashlight to project a beam of light at a specific area.
Prophetic is increasing its accuracy by using two transducers to generate focused ultrasound from the temples of your head. The temple is a perfect location to place the transducers: the area being targeted (the prefrontal cortex) is in between both temples, and the lack of hair in the temples makes it convenient to allow direct contact with the skin. Both transducers function as flashlights to spotlight a specific area of the brain.
Using both transducers allows for precise targeting of the brain, but to produce lucid dreams, the prefrontal cortex must be targeted during stages of REM sleep.
To solve this, Prophetic is training its own machine learning (ML) model by closely correlating data from fMRI scans to EEG scans. fMRI scans produce accurate scans of different areas of the brain but require large machines and can be quite costly. EEG scans, on the other hand, provide graphs of brain waves and are cheap and small enough to install on a portable device like the Halo but provide very limited data compared to fMRI. Prophetic analyzes data from fMRI and EEG scans in studies and correlates them to create ML models that can predict the state of an fMRI scan just from observing an EEG scan’s data. This allows Prophetic to put an EEG sensor on the Halo to record brain wave data and see if the “flashlight” targeting of the prefrontal cortex corresponds to EEG data correlated with lucid dreams. It can then adjust accordingly as needed.
This creates an ingenious closed-loop cycle where the Halo can adjust the targeted location of the focused ultrasound waves while also awaiting the optimal time in REM sleep to attempt to induce lucid dreams.
Q: What societal changes does Prophetic hope to bring about, and what does the future hold for Prophetic?
The team at Prophetic envisions a society where lucid dreams are accessible to anyone. Lucid dreams can allow for a wide range of experiences, from entertainment to creative bouts of work. Eric sees a world where people can share their lucid dream experiences through a social media platform, making it a cultural phenomenon that people talk more actively about.
Eric even sees the potential for societal shifts similar to the introduction of yoga and meditation into mainstream culture. He sees potential new 'Churches of Epistemological Metaphysics,' where people gather to discuss the experiences and insights gained using the Halo.
Wes sees the Halo as a tool for humans to explore uncharted lands. Just like Charles Darwin needed celestial navigation tools and ships to take him to the Galapagos and observe the fundamental realities of nature and evolution, Prophetic is creating the tools to enable explorers of a new frontier of the mind.
There are many different states of the mind beyond lucid dreams, though, and Prophetic hopes to explore the induction of different mind states to reach a “noetic singularity.” This is where a general theory of consciousness emerges, profoundly impacting our understanding of reality itself.
OSVerse Sneak Peek: The Atelier
Atelier: a workshop or studio, especially one used by an artist or designer.
You first notice the atelier’s facade, a harmonious meld of Renaissance architecture and cutting-edge technology.
Your personal AI device tells you that this is No. #0327: a generalist atelier focused on sculptures, music, new materials, and fusion power.
“Impressed, you watch the robotic arms maneuver gigantic monolithic blocks of atomically modified marble (developed in-house to withstand extremely high temperatures) with surgical precision.“
You step inside and are immediately hit by the contrast in sounds: the metronomic whirring of machines and clacking of chisels on stone are punctuated by the sound of electronic instruments playing in a syncopated rhythm.
To your left, a group of artists conduct a symphony of huge mechanical arms to sculpt monumental pieces that will eventually adorn one of the City's public spaces. Impressed, you watch the robotic arms maneuver gigantic monolithic blocks of atomically modified marble (developed in-house to withstand extremely high temperatures) with surgical precision.
While the robots are sculpting away, the artists are quietly brainstorming with their AI companions, whose holographic displays are a constantly shifting montage of design refinements and metrics. A closer inspection tells you that these sculptures hold functions beyond their artistic value, to be used to house small nuclear reactors around the city.
You continue to a section resembling a laboratory, where a large group of scientists and engineers are wearing lab robes. These create thin, non-visible lead shields to protect them from potentially dangerous microparticles or radiation. The researchers are deep in the development of new high-temperature superconductor materials, such as LK-71645. These materials, fundamental to the City's levitation-based transportation system, promise to revolutionize urban mobility and other areas like the City’s electrical grid by preventing energy from being lost to heat through friction and resistance.
You wander towards the center of the atelier. This magnificently decorated domed room contains an enormous holographic sphere, at least 30 feet high. As you inch towards it, your AI assistant tells you that this is a conceptual model of a Dyson Sphere, a bold venture to harness the energy from our Sun, enabling us to become a K2 Civilization on the Kardashev scale.
You realize that this atelier must be a member of the prestigious Dyson Sphere Consortium.
“This approach, allowing individual units complete autonomy within a wider structure of knowledge-sharing and collaboration, has shown much promise previously, particularly with complex problems that may have multiple solutions.”
The City has thousands of autonomous ateliers, each performing independent research while also working on larger moonshot projects. For these moonshot projects, ateliers will be assigned to a consortium based on their previous achievements. Within each consortium, the ateliers will independently work on their own hypotheses to solve the given problem. Depending on their contributions, the City allocates funding accordingly, and ateliers rise in prestige. Periodically, each atelier’s findings are shared with other members of the corresponding consortium to raise everyone to a new elevated baseline of knowledge.
This approach, allowing individual units complete autonomy within a wider structure of knowledge-sharing and collaboration, has shown much promise previously, particularly with complex problems that may have multiple solutions. Just last year, an initiative was introduced to geoengineer the climate throughout different areas of the city, a product of a significant breakthrough made by the Climate Geoengineering Consortium.
Your attention is pierced by the triumphant burst of a trumpet, which is soon accompanied by what sounds like a full jazz band. Confused, you glance around– where is that coming from? It isn’t until a few seconds later that you realize the music, now in full swing, is coming from a set of floating speakers. The conductor, clearly in the zone, appears to be actively adjusting the tone and pitch of each instrument as she goes while mixing, pulling from, and modifying different chord progressions of jazz greats throughout the ages, like Miles Davis and Ahmad Jamal.
A nearby holographic display tells you that the conductor is preparing a composition to showcase at the City’s music innovation festival, where artists stretch the limits of innovation in music to increase their atelier’s cultural status in the City.
As you proceed along the walkway, each turning seems to unveil a different active project. To your right, an engineer, assisted by an AI agent, is fine-tuning a design for magnetic levitation shoes. To your left, an artist is designing a facade for a public park building with a material that vibrates to produce a calm, relaxing sound for the humans and animals that stroll through the park.
“Right now, thousands of creative projects - products of art, science, and engineering - are taking place in every corner of the City.”
In the ateliers, the fusion of the arts and sciences doesn't just exist in theory but is actively practiced: many of the engineers and artists mingle with each other, exchanging the type of interdisciplinary feedback that was embodied by Leonardo da Vinci, Buckminster Fuller, and other conceptual founders of the City.
Exiting the atelier, you almost feel sad leaving such a dynamic, productive environment.
And then, your personal AI device reminds you: this is but one of thousands of ateliers spread through the City, creating a network of innovation hubs. Right now, thousands of creative projects - products of art, science, and engineering - are taking place in every corner of the City.
You pull up your holographic map and see a top atelier a 5-minute walk away on the conveyor sidewalk. Even better, it’s hosting an open forum day where the students of the nearby academy are encouraged to interact, experiment with, and ask questions about ongoing projects.
You have things to do, but now your curiosity is piqued. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to catch a glance at a live innovation challenge. What a way to spend the day.
Stay tuned for more updates on the OSVerse…