Full text of memory athlete Daniel Kilov’s talk: The art of memory at TEDxMacquarieUniversity conference.
Daniel Kilov – Memory Athlete, Speaker and Academic in Training
So later this year in London, not far from where the Olympic games have just taken place, a group of athletes will be coming together to compete in a very different competition, but one which is no less fierce and which also exemplifies the Olympic model of higher, faster, stronger.
The competition I’m talking about is the world memory championships, where world-class memory men and women will be coming together to perform some truly astonishing feats of mental agility.
To offer up just a couple of examples: The world record for memorizing a deck of cards, 21.9 seconds.
Now imagine how hard it is to memorize the order of 52 cards. Let alone he’ll do it in less than half a minute. Just shuffling through a deck that fast.
The world record for memorizing binary digits is a staggering- 930 binary digits. That’s 930 ones and zeros memorized in only five minutes.
Now to me, it’s astonishing to think that there are people walking among us with these kinds of superhuman memory abilities. But what’s even more amazing and to my mind, much more exciting, is the thought that anyone can learn to do these things.
That is to say that the competitors at the world memory championships, they don’t have any kind of special abilities or innate talents. Rather, they all use a very small set of very simple techniques.
And I know, I know that anyone can learn to do these things because as it happens, I’m a memory athlete. And I didn’t have a good memory in school as we said before. And if you don’t believe me, you can just go ask my team. I’m sure they’ll attest to this.