The second brain is concept popularized by productivity expert Tiago Forte. According to Forte, the second brain system is divided in to 4 fundamental steps -
- Capturing information from the outside world.
- Organize it in such a way that it’s easily accessible.
- Distill it down to the best ideas
- Express your own ideas in your own voice
This is a fool proof system, but many people find it hard to implement because it’s just too much work.
Especially steps 1, 2 and 3 are too cumbersome for most people to pull off. This is where having an AI powered second brain to handle these steps can be so powered.
Let’s see how you can create a second brain to capture, organize and distill information. And then use it to express your own ideas in your own voice.
The best way to do build a second brain on AI is to use Elephas on your Macbook or iMac. The Super Brain feature of Elephas is built specifically to solve this problem.
Let’s see how it works -
Step 1 - Set up Elephas
Elephas is a personal AI assistant for your Mac, iPhone and iPad.
Setting it up is a simple 5 minute process.
You can download it and try it for free from the Elephas home page.
With Elephas, you have to use your own ChatGPT API key, here’s a simple tutorial on how to get your own keys -
Once you get your ChatGPT API Keys you can enter them into Elephas and start using it.
The next step is the fun part, this is where you will set up your second brain on AI.
Step 2 - Create your first brain
It’s a simple 3 step process -
- Click the Elephas icon in the status bar
- Click the “Preferences” button
- Go to the “Brains” tab and click the plus (”+”) button.
Here you will get the option to create your brain.
You can customize the brain any way you like, you can give it a name, add a custom system message, and start loading your data from multiple
Currently, there are 8 ways to upload your data to the brain -
- Notion pages
- Obsidian vaults
- Roam databases
- And other sources
Here’s what the “Create Brain” popup looks like -
Now, how you create a brain is important.
Remeber step 2 of the 4 part second brain system - Organize information.
Elephas lets you create as many brains as you want, with as much information as you want. So you can create a separate brain for each topic that you care about.
You can organize your brain based on projects you’re working on, or subjects you want to study, or based on categories like books, blogs, papers etc.
For sake of simplicity, it’s best to create a brain for each topic.
Once you have set up your brains, you can start adding content to them.
That’s step 1 of the second brain principle - Capture.
Step 3 - Start adding to information to the brain
There are 2 ways to add information to the second brain -
1. Add from “Brain Preferences”
You can directly go into the “Brain” preferences, and load files into it. As you add more files, Elephas displays all the files added to a particular brain. It also checks the new files for duplicacy, so that you don’t store redundant information in the brain. You can even delete information from the brain here.
This is what it looks like -
Here you can also see the size of your brain. Like in this example I created a second brain for the 5 ML and AI books I want to read, it’s total size is 50 MB.
2. Add dynamically via shortcut
Elephas gives you the option to add any information to a brain via an “Add to brain” shortcut.
This way you can keep adding to your second brain from any source on the internet or on your computer.
Elephas works everywhere on your Mac, so any piece of information that you can consume on the Mac, you can add to your brain.
This is how it looks like when I added a short paragraph to my brain -
I found this snippet I found interesting from OpenAI’s paper - “Language models can explain neurons in language models”
I selected the relevant text, pressed CTRL + Space Bar to bring up the Elephas context meny, and then selected the “Add to Brain” menu option, and selected the “ML and AI” second brain to save this snippet.
Now I can be rest assured that this interesting piece of insight is stored in my AI second brain forever. Whenever I want to use it, I can distill it and express it in my own voice.
Which is the last part of using your second brain on AI.
Step 4 - Accessing Second Brain
The best way to access your AI second brain via Elephas is by using the “Super Chat” feature.
You can access it directly from the Super Brain preference, or open Super Chat from the Elephas menu options.
Here’s what it looks like -
Here you can select the brain you want to chat with. I selected the “ML and AI” super brain that I had created in the previous step.
Now, you can ask any questions you have about the topic, and the brain will answer you based on the information stored in it.
This is the best way you can distill and express the information from your second brain on AI.
I asked it - “Explain basics of Machine Learning like I’m a 5 year old” and it gave me a very simple yet powerful definition of the concept.
Elephas Super Chat also has a citation feature.
Where it cites all the sources from the second brain which it used to answer the question. This adds to the reliability of the platform.
The citation feature helps you ensure that your AI second brain isn’t hallucinating, and it’s basing all answers on the informaiton you have captured in it in the past.
As you can see setting up an AI second brain is so simple and powerful with Elephas - AI assistant for your Mac.
And when you set it up like this, you can also easily follow the 4 parts of the second brain system -
Hope this was useful.
If you have any questions or need help, please don't hesitate to reach out. We are always here to help.
You can find more details about Elephas Super Brain on this page -
Kamban, Maker of Elephas.