MIT Building a Dream Hacker

At MIT’s Dream Lab a small team of researchers thinks they can create technologies capable of mining the subconscious to prove that dreams can be influenced and directed.

“Dreaming is really just thinking at night,” says Adam Horowitz, a PhD student at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group and a Dream Lab researcher. “When you go inside, you come out different in the morning. But we have not been asking questions about the experience of that transformation of information or the thoughts that guide it.”

Horowitz and his fellow researchers are taking it upon themselves to ask — and hopefully answer — these questions. And while previous research has shown that dreams may contribute to memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and overall mental health, the Dream Lab is pushing research a step further. Rather than simply exploring the role of dreams in our lives, the researchers want to see what happens when they interfere with them.

To do this, the Dream Lab, which was launched in 2017 as a division of MIT’s Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group, is developing novel and open source wearable devices that track and interact with dreams in various ways. While part of this work aims to legitimize the idea that dreams are not just random mind slush, but access points to deeper levels of cognition, the larger goal is to show that when dreams can be hacked, augmented, and swayed, our waking lives benefit.

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