What happens when we fuse technology with storytelling? When we hack the brain in order to overcome fear, and ultimately influence how we experience the the world around us – through understanding the world within us?

Our next guest refers to herself as a storyteller from the future.

Karen Palmer is an Award Winning Multi-Disciplinary Immersive Filmmaker. Merging Film, Gaming, Technology and Neuroscience to create Emotionally Responsive Experiences.

Karen’s most notorious project – and the one that caught our attention – was created in 2016 when she created a film called Riot. Riot is an extraordinary fusion of tech and storytelling. It takes viewers through an immersive, 3D experience of an actual riot – the only difference being – through the use of AI, facial recognition and 3D technology – everything that happens is dictated by the emotions of the viewer.

So each viewer has a unique experience of the RIOT – how the characters behave, whether the action slows down or speeds up. Based purely on how they emotionally respond to the story itself. In other words – how the film watches them.

So why is that important – other than I believe being the method of storytelling we will all consider to be normal ten years from now. It’s important because it gives viewers a real time experience of how their own emotions and responses (often subconscious in the form of facial expressions and body language) significantly impact how they experience the world.

Have you ever wondered how your internal stories – your internal narrative – about events, people, situations – impacts how the story of your life literally unfolds? If not, you should. It’s one of the most life (and influence) altering lines of exploration. And if you have – Karen’s work will blow your mind.

In addition to RIOT – Karen is also a pioneer of ‘neurogaming’ (basically where immersive tech meets gaming). In which your mind once again becomes a remote control in an incredible experience that includes film, wearable technology and neuroscience. Think Fortnite on crack.

Her works Syncself and Syncself 2 are live-action video games – the difference being that you interact with them by wearing an EEG headset on your brain, measuring your level of focus – and then adapting the game to reflect your state of mind back to you.

And – as if this lady isn’t fascinating enough – she also merges her passion for cutting edge neuro-storytelling with her other passion – parkour.

You’ve probably seen footage of parkor before – insanely agile people clambering up and leaping over urban walls, buildings and obstacles – all in one long continuous movement of gymnastics meets martial arts. What I didn’t know before this conversation – was the philosophy of mindfulness that sits behind it.

Just like RIOT, Syncself and neuro-gaming – Karen uses this parkor as an immediate feedback loop – a way of a way to train her mind to stay in a state of total focus. Because let’s face it – there’s no immediate feedback loop more compelling than falling face first onto concrete.

So – some of the topics we dove into in this conversation include:

Why neuro-storytelling is the future – and how we can use it to build new neurological pathways in our brain

How seeing ourselves – our biases and triggers – reflected on the screen – will help us to take better control of our own lives

Why courage is simply a software download – and how to run an ‘erase and install’ on your own mind

The doors that this type of future storytelling opens for humanity. In particular how we teach empathy and accelerated leadership.

Why we will soon be taking the leap from bio-hacking (think Fitbits – and the various other wearable technology now available) to brain-hacking

And finally… why you never have to be the unwilling participant in someone else’s story

A conversation with Karen is a little like Parkour in itself. Leaping in and out of exhilarating topics, arcs and ideas – yet always with the same intention. Seeking to understand how the future of storytelling can (and will) not only revolutionise how we entertain and communicate important ideas. But also fundamentally change the role we consider ourselves to have – as continual writers of our own experience.

So… grab yourself a coffee – or whatever your adrenaline kick of choice. And get ready to be mind blown. Many of you that have either listened before – or met me in any capacity – will know that I consider storytelling to be one of the most powerful tools of influence. This one takes it to a whole new level.

Enjoy my conversation with the fascinating Karen Palmer.