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Opportunity knocks: opening the door to genius

November 17, 2016
Futurist and biomedical engineer Dr Jordan Nguyen says that people’s relationship with technology is becoming increasingly intimate, “So we need to figure out how that’s going to augment us, not just be something that we use and rely on, and become lazier.”
Nguyen found the passion to creatively apply his talents at age 20, when a freak accident involving a pool party and a diving board almost resulted in his suffering permanent disability. Instead, his good fortune was to recover and, during rehabilitation, to meet people whose life options were being limited by their physical inabilities.

The title of Episode 4 of GE’s mind-bending, myth-busting Decoding Genius podcast series—The 99%: Genius + Hard Work = Extraordinary Results—references company founder Thomas Edison’s assertion that genius is largely in rigorous application of ability. It explores how genius may be developed and activated as the driver of extraordinary outcomes.

Discover how the birth of triplets in the Nguyen family, the robots Jordan’s father Hung Nguyen brought home from his work as an electrical engineer, and Nguyen’s deep sense of empathy have contributed to his prodigious inventive output as an engineer for humanity.

Jordan Nguyen is developing mind-controlled wheelchairs.

Learn about the chain of technological command he designed to allow 13-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer, Riley Saban, to drive a car (no worries, we’re off road here) using only his eye movements.

Episode 4 also questions how little society invests in the development of children in the IQ spectrum of giftedness and genius, and what difficulties such children encounter in channeling their abilities and living their potential.

Karen King, a Perth-based psychologist specialising in IQ testing and therapy for gifted children and adults, draws an analogy between the opportunities offered children with high IQ and those available for children with sporting prowess: “We put a lot of time and resources and energy into kids who are fantastic at sport … Unfortunately, there’s not an incredible amount on offer for high-IQ kids.

Perhaps this is because, as Decoding Genius host Lily Serna notes in this podcast, “There’s a widely held belief that gifted kids have it easy…”

In fact, their rare abilities and sense of social justice frequently make them the target of bullying at school and social exclusion, and the resulting stress can lead to a loss of ability to learn, explains Michele Juratowich, a counsellor, teacher and coach who nurtures talent development in the gifted population from her base in Brisbane.

After a rocky ride with the school system, Jordan Nguyen has not only focused on enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by fusing humanity with intelligent technology; he has become an inspiring communicator of the possibilities posed by robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and biomedical technology.

Hear Nguyen’s story; meet an eight year-old prodigy whose parents began his education while he was in utero and who now has abilities shared by only one in 10,000 others in the world; and ponder the power of invoking and stoking brilliance in this enthralling installment of Decoding Genius.