About Luc P. Beaudoin (myself!)
- At CogZest: founder and sole proprietor,
- at Simon Fraser University, the academic home of my Cognitive Productivity Research Project: Adjunct Professor of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science,
- at CogSci Apps Corp.: Co-founder; president; product management.
- Co-founder of the Somnolence+ initiative.
I am also author of Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective, and of Cognitive Productivity with macOS®: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge. I’m editor and principal author of Discontinuities: Love, Art, Mind (due 2021).
I am working on a number of cognitive science-related R&D projects.
Longish Bio in chronological order
I have always sought to study/work with, learn from and learn about brilliant minds. Also, from course work to professional R&D, I have systematically chosen to work on hard problems at with an optimistic sense of my zone of proximal development.
- My undergraduate degree was in Psychology at the University of Ottawa. However, it could just as well have been in cognitive science, because I took many courses in all its main disciplines except for anthropology.
- Thanks to NSERC scholarship awards, I worked intensely in an affective neuroscience lab, examining the effects of electrical stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus in rats on self-stimulation thresholds — basically priming incentive motivational systems. This led to a publication in Behavioural Brain Research , and informed my Ph.D. and later understanding of motivation.
- Meanwhile, my honour’s thesis was in theoretical: A computational investigation of the evolution of vision. My thesis supervisor was Claude Lamontagne, himself a Ph.D. in AI [vision] from the U. of Edinburgh. Claude was a 3M National Fellow for Teaching and Learning Higher Education.
- I spent the first year of my Ph.D. in Cognitive Science at Sussex University in England. (That was at the time when Sussex was arguably the top school of Cognitive Science in the world, with such luminaries as Aaron Sloman, Andy Clark, and Phil Agre.) I completed my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Birmingham (computer modelling of goal processing and motivation) under the supervision of Prof. Aaron Sloman. (See my article: Homage to Aaron Sloman, Winner of the 2020 APA K. Jon Barwise Prize)
- My external examiner was Maggie Boden, one of the most accomplished thinkers in cognitive science (including AI). I have more books on my shelves written by her than by any other writer. I will endeavour to have a chapter about her work in Great Contemporaries in Cognitive Science and Related Endeavours.
- I was briefly lecturer and Assistant Professor of Military Psychology and Leadership at the Royal Military College of Canada (e.g., Motivation and Performance Enhancement). This is when I was first confronted with the opportunity and necessity to bridge theoretical and applied psychology. This bridging was a daunting task that became a lifelong passion.
- I was an at-founding employee of Tundra Semiconductor (technical writer). Jim Roche was VP/GM during my tenure. Jim went on to become CEO of Stratford Managers.
- I was the first employee of Abatis Systems Corp. (“Senior” Software Developer). Abatis was co-founded by Paul Terry and Adam Lorant, who were joined by John Seminerio. They became three of Canada’s most accomplish tech entrepreneurs. Dr. Paul Terry is now CEO of PHOTONIC, Canada’s most promising quantum computing startup. I should mention that Dr. Richard (“Renwei”) Li was also an early employee and close friend of mine at Abatis who contributed an enormous amount of technical knowledge to its success. (Dr. Li is now Chief Scientist and VP of Network Technologies at Futurewei Technologies, Inc. And he is mentioned in my first Cognitive Productivity book 😉).
At Tundra and Abatis I learned an enormous amount about designing products and doing tech startups. However, I also continued to learn about the human mind: motivation, leadership, learning, knowledge building, etc. The combined valuation of those two companies soared to well over $2 billion in less than 5 and 2.5 years, respectively. This too showed that spectacular progress is possible when working with all-round excellent minds.
Given my training in cognitive science, several things struck me as odd at Tundra and Abatis. For instance, despite the fact that my colleagues and I had full access to technical documentation in electronic formats and the best computers and monitors, we printed reams of documentation. I was also struck by the fact that none of the employees seemed be well steeped in cognitive science or psychology. The psychology that was discussed I considered to be quackery. My employers did not seem to care for my expertise in psychology. (I was mocked by a senior manager for suggesting that we should make space for employees to nap; others found it amusing that I lined my desk with applied psychology texts. However, Paul Terry, to his credit, showed an interest in the Sleep Thieves book that I leant to him.) I became fascinated by the question: what would it take for knowledge workers to be far better able to learn deeply with technology, on screen, without needing to print?
So, after Abatis was acquired by Redback Networks, I set my sights on creating my own company (code named “Lakatosh”) and products to enhance cognitive productivity. One of my main goals has since then been to help knowledge workers turn external information into personal knowledge that is not just in the machines but active in one’s mind. I’ve been designing products to optimize learning, mastery and remembering, which extend and leverage the best of cognitive science and technology.
In 2002, I took these ideas to Prof. Phil Winne’s projects at Simon Fraser University. Prof Winne is one of the world’s most accomplished researchers in self-regulated learning with a particular interest in technology. We developed highly innovative software to enhance and research self-regulated learning (“gStudy” and “nStudy”). As his research associate, I led our software development teams and helped raise millions of dollars to fund our R&D. I also used this opportunity to keep learning about how the mind can drive its cognitive productivity.
In 2010, I became Adjunct Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University, and I launched CogZest.
In 2014, I became Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science at SFU while remaining Adjunct Professor of Education there. (I might be the only professor at SFU to have have adjunct appointments in two different faculties.)
In 2014, I also spun-off some of CogZest’s intellectual property portfolio to a new startup co-founded by Brian Shi and myself, CogSci Apps Corp..
- In 2014, we at CogSci Apps Corp. released mySleepButton.
- In 2019, we at CogSci Apps Corp. released Hook productivity software. This app is designed to help users access the most contextually relevant information, so that they can remain in flow while doing knowledge-intense work.
Both of those software products are highly original (first of their kind) and inspired by my academic research.
If you’ve reflected on CogZest’s mission, you may have realized that an interdisciplinary background is required to accomplish it. I’ve written this page to highlight some of the background that I think is required and that I bring to the task. That includes understanding:
- Cognitive science – understanding the mind as a complex but somewhat accessible and controllable collection of virtual machines
- Affect: motivation (including goal processing), emotions, attitudes and performance enhancement
- Self-directed learning
- Interpersonal relations, values and ethics
- Research and development
- Software development and information technology
- Knowledge worker productivity
- Personality, particularly inventiveness and efficiency
- Knowledge industry and building world-class intellectual products.
I discussed this R&D approach in my first Cognitive Productivity book.
In 2018, I renamed the approach: “integrative design-oriented (‘IDO’) R&D”. I published A Manifesto for Integrative Design-oriented Cognitive Science and AI – CogZest. (Often one has to name a concept to make it work.)
I also have an active research project to better understand sleep-onset and treat insomnia. As you might expect, I take an IDO approach to this too. This project includes several of the top insomnia researchers as well as very promising phd students and new academics. (Daniel Kay, Célyne H. Bastien, Julie Carrier, Sheryl Guloy, Alexandre Lemyre, and others.)
If you’re interested in the intersection of learning, thinking, knowledge building and productivity, then perhaps CogZest will appeal to you.
- read our blog;
- try out our workshops;
- consider our coaching and
- take advantage of our consulting services (where we help tech companies design software that reflects integrative design-oriented understand of the mind).
Luc P. Beaudoin, Ph.D. (Cognitive Science)