Anil Seth Profile

  • World-renowned neuroscientist and Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex.

  • Seth is known for his groundbreaking research on consciousness and its connection to the brain.

  • Seth's TED Talk, 'Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality', has over 13 million views.
  • Anil Seth is a world-renowned neuroscientist, a best-selling author, and a highly sought-after keynote speaker with expertise in the science of consciousness, artificial intelligence, and art-science collaboration.

    He is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Program on Brain, Mind and Consciousness, a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness. He has published more than 200 research papers and is recognised as being in the top 1% of researchers worldwide in his area.

    Anil is known for his work on perception as a ‘controlled hallucination’, and for his theory of consciousness which emphasises the deep connections between conscious experience and our nature as living machines.

    His public-oriented book – Being You: A New Science of Consciousness – was an instant Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller and a 2021 Book of the Year for The GuardianThe EconomistThe New StatesmanThe Financial TimesBloomberg Business. Anil appears regularly on a variety of broadcast and online media, and writes for outlets including AeonThe GuardianGrantaNew Scientist, and Scientific American. His other books include 30 Second Brain (Ivy Press, 2014) and EyeBenders (with Clive Gifford, winner of the 2015 Royal Society Young Person’s Book Prize).

    His main-stage TED talk, ‘Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality’, has been viewed over thirteen million times and is one of their most popular science talks. Currently, he is lead scientist on an ambitious science-art collaboration called Dreamachine, a neuroscience-inspired collective immersive experience that has reached more than 30,000 people.

    Anil’s mission is to advance the science of consciousness, to use its insights for the benefit of society, technology and medicine, and to make this fascinating and central area of research understandable and exciting for audiences – and potential collaborators – of all kinds.

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    Anil Seth's Speech Descriptions

    The new science of consciousness

    What is consciousness and how can it be explained? Anil will show how the new science of consciousness is dissolving this most obstinate, yet also most familiar of mysteries, and he’ll reveal its striking implications for how we live.

    Being You - the science of perception and self

    Anil shares his mind-bending insights into how we experience the world around us, and ourselves within it. His talk will turn what you thought you knew about yourself on its head.

    Machine minds

    As artificial intelligence grows increasingly powerful and prevalent, Anil shares his unique perspectives on its development, busts many myths about the idea of ‘conscious machines’, and will leave you with a new appreciation for what it means to be human.

    How to build a dreamachine

    Anil will use his experiences as lead scientist on the ground-breaking Dreamachine project to explore how art and science together can shed new light on the human condition, and help each of better understand the power and potential of our own minds and how we relate to each other.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Anil Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Anil’s work has helped us meet our mission at TED in two key ways… Firstly our motto at TED is “Ideas worth spreading” and I would say Anil’s original approach to consciousness is one of those ideas worth spreading… Secondly, my goal as TED science curator is to demystify science or reduce the barriers so people are less intimidated by science and are less dismissive of their ability to grasp truly scientific concepts. I think Anil hits the marks on both those fronts for us, which explains why his talk is so popular”.
    – David Biello, TED’s science curator

    “We felt the audience could understand these really challenging concepts if Anil were guiding them through these complex ideas. He is a really good explainer in this particular field of neuroscience and we researched lots of different people. In fact there is no-one else we are speaking to in this capacity anywhere else in the world.”
    – Lucy Walker, Oscar-nominated, Emmy-award-winning film maker

    “Anil was the perfect keynote speaker for dConstruct serving up a nutritious meal for the mind, somehow managing to make complex topics not just understandable, but downright fun!”
    – Jeremy Keith, Co-Founder, Clearleft Media

    “Dr. Anil Seth is a gifted public intellectual. His explanations of the biological basis of consciousness in plain language have been a groundbreaking and invaluable contribution to public discourse. Beyond this, how effortlessly he is able to translate complex contemporary neuroscience research for lay audiences – with a great deal of humor, to boot – is a testament to his mastery over his subject matter. For me, Dr. Seth has been an important interlocutor over the years, particularly given my interest in the viability of arriving at a model of human decision making in the context of international peace and security work. In this regard, his capacity and openness to think across disciplines are a boon to the rest of us and the world a better place for them.”
    – Daanish T. Masood, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, United Nations

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    Books by Anil Seth:

    Being You: A New Science of Consciousness

    Anil Seth’s quest to understand the biological basis of conscious experience is one of the most exciting contributions to twenty-first-century science.

    What does it mean to “be you”—that is, to have a specific, conscious experience of the world around you and yourself within it? There may be no more elusive or fascinating question. Historically, humanity has considered the nature of consciousness to be a primarily spiritual or philosophical inquiry, but scientific research is now mapping out compelling biological theories and explanations for consciousness and selfhood.

    Now, internationally renowned neuroscience professor, researcher, and author Anil Seth is offers a window into our consciousness in BEING YOU: A New Science of Consciousness. Anil Seth is both a leading expert on the neuroscience of consciousness and one of most prominent spokespeople for this relatively new field of science. His radical argument is that we do not perceive the world as it objectively is, but rather that we are prediction machines, constantly inventing our world and correcting our mistakes by the microsecond, and that we can now observe the biological mechanisms in the brain that accomplish this process of consciousness.

    Seth has been interviewed for documentaries aired on the BBC, Netflix, and Amazon and podcasts by Sam Harris, Russell Brand, and Chris Anderson, and his 2017 TED Talk on the topic has been viewed over 11 million times, a testament to his uncanny ability to make unimaginably complex science accessible and entertaining.

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