Tagged with “reality” (20)

  1. YANSS 090 – Questioning the nature of reality with cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman – You Are Not So Smart

    Back in the early 1900s, the German biologist Jakob Johann Baron von Uexküll couldn’t shake the implication that the inner lives of animals like jellyfish and sea urchins must be radically different from those of humans.

    Uexküll was fascinated by how meaty, squishy nervous systems gave rise to perception. Noting that the sense organs of sea creatures and arachnids could perceive things that ours could not, he realized that giant portions of reality must therefore be missing from their subjective experiences, which suggested that the same was true of us. In other words, most ticks can’t enjoy an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical because, among other reasons, they don’t have eyes. On the other hand, unlike ticks, most humans can’t smell butyric acid wafting on the breeze, and so no matter where you sit in the audience, smell isn’t an essential (or intended) element of a Broadway performance of Cats.

    Uexküll imagined that each animal’s subjective experience was confined to a private sensory world he called an umwelt. Each animal’s umwelt was different, he said, distinctive from that of another animal in the same environment, and each therefore was tuned to take in only a small portion of the total picture. Not that any animal would likely know that, which was Uexküll’s other big idea. Because no organism can perceive the totality of objective reality, each animal likely assumes that what it can perceive is all that can be perceived. Each umwelt is a private universe, fitted to its niche, and the subjective experiences of all of Earth’s creatures are like a sea filled with a panoply of bounded virtual realities floating past one another, each unaware that it is unaware.

    Like all ideas, Uexküll’s weren’t completely new. Philosophers had wondered about the differences in subjective and objective reality going back to Plato’s cave (and are still wondering). But even though Uexküll’s ideas weren’t strictly original, he brought them into a new academic silo – biology. In doing so, he generated lines of academic research into neuroscience and the nature of consciousness that are still going today.

    For instance, when the philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked, “What is it like to be a bat?” he thought there was no answer to his question because it would be impossible to think in that way. Bat sonar, he said, is nothing like anything we possess, “and there is no reason to suppose that it is subjectively like anything we can experience or imagine.” All one can do, said Nagel, is imagine what it would be like for a person, like yourself, to be a bat. Imagining what it would be like for a bat to be a bat is impossible. This was part of an overall criticism on the limits of reductionist thinking, and is, of course, still the subject of much debate.

    The siblings of these notions appear in the writings of everyone from Timothy Leary with his “reality tunnels” to J.J. Gibson’s “ecological optics” to psychologist Charles Tart and his “consensus trances.” From the Wachowski’s Matrix to Kant’s “noumenon” to Daniel Dennett’s “conscious robots,” we’ve been wondering about these questions for a very long time. You too, I suspect, have stumbled on these problems, asking something along the lines of “do we all see the same colors?” at some point. The answer, by the way, is no.

    The assumption in most of these musings is that we humans are unique because we can escape our umwelten. We have reason, philosophy, science, and physics which free us from the prison of our limited human perceptions. We can use tools to extend our senses, to see the background radiation left behind by the big bang or hear the ultrasonic laughter of ticklish mice. Sure, the table seems solid enough when we knock on it, and if you were still trapped in your umwelt, you wouldn’t think otherwise, but now you know it is actually mostly empty space thanks to your understanding of protons and electrons. We assume that more layers of truth reveal themselves to us with each successive paradigm shift.

    In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast, we sit down with a scientist who is challenging these assumptions.

    Donald Hoffman, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California with a background in artificial intelligence, game theory, and evolutionary biology has developed a new theory of consciousness that, should it prove true, would rearrange our understanding of not only the mind and the brain, but physics itself.

    “I agree up to a point,” said Hoffman, “that different organisms are in effectively different perceptual worlds, but where I disagree is that these worlds are seeing different parts of the truth. I don’t think they are seeing the truth at all.”

    Hoffman wondered if evolution truly favored veridical minds, so he and his graduate students created computer models of natural selection that included accurate perceptions of reality as a variable.

    “We simulated hundreds of thousands of random worlds and put organisms in those worlds that could see all of the truth, part of the truth, or none of the truth,” explained Hoffman. “What we found in our simulations was that organisms that saw reality as-it-is could never outcompete organisms that saw none of reality and were just tuned to fitness, as long as they were of equal complexity.”

    The implication, Hoffman said, is that an organism that can see the truth will never be favored by natural selection. This suggests that literally nothing we can conceive of can be said to represent objective reality, not even atoms, molecules, or physical laws. Physics and chemistry are still inside the umwelt. There’s no escape.

    “If our perceptual systems evolved by natural selection, then the probability that we see reality as it actually is, in any way, is zero. Precisely zero,” said Hoffman.

    Well aware that these ideas come across as woo, Hoffman welcomes challenges from his peers and other interested parties, and in the interview you’ll hear what they’ve said so far and how you can investigate these concepts for yourself.

    Also in the show, Hoffman explains his ideas in detail in addition to discussing the bicameral mind, artificial intelligence, and the hard problem of consciousness in this mindbending episode about how we make sense of our world, our existence, and ourselves.

    https://youarenotsosmart.com/2016/12/02/yanss-090-questioning-the-nature-of-reality-with-cognitive-scientist-donald-hoffman/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. Frank Wilczek — Why Is the World So Beautiful?

    Nobel physicist Frank Wilczek sees beauty as a compass for truth, discovery, and meaning. His book, A Beautiful Question, is a long meditation on the question: “Does the world embody beautiful ideas?” He’s the unusual scientist willing to analogize his discoveries about the deep structure of reality with deep meaning in the human everyday.

    http://www.onbeing.org/program/frank-wilczek-why-is-the-world-so-beautiful/8565

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  3. Glitching: LJ Rich at TEDxTokyo 2014

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    Original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGIjxSAzE28
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  4. Ori Inbar on Singularity 1 on 1: Augmented Reality Will Change Every Aspect of Life and Work

    Ori Inbar developed a passion for augmented reality (AR) ever since he realized that it will change every aspect of life and work we can think of. This realization has motivated him to become an industry start-up entrepreneur, a founder of a not-for-profit organization, an event organizer and a recognized speaker on topics related to augmented reality. Thus I was very happy to get him for an interview on Singularity 1 on 1.

    During my conversation with Ori Inbar we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: the story behind his passion and motivation for augmented reality; the past and the present definition of augmented reality; differences between augmented reality, virtual reality and real reality; major applications for AR; the dangers and costs of militarization; Ori’s favorite augmented reality devices; issues of privacy, advertising and big brother; “wearing” vs “not-wearing” and Vernor Vinge‘s Rainbows End; the three laws of augmented reality design; Ogmento and AugmentedReality.org; transhumanism and the technological singularity…

    My favorite quote that I will take away from this conversation with Ori Inbar is: “When you think of any aspect of life or work, augmented reality is completely going to change how we do it.”

    http://www.singularityweblog.com/ori-inbar-on-singularity-1-on-1-augmented-reality-will-change-every-aspect-of-life-and-work/

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  5. To The Best of Our Knowledge: Philip K. Dick

    Nobody blurred the line between his life and his literature more than the legendary science-fiction author, Philip K. Dick. And that’s only fitting since one of the major themes of his fiction is, “What is reality?” This week we take a look at the life and work of the man who’s been described as “one of the most valiant psychological explorers of the twentieth century,” as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death.

    http://ttbook.org/book/philip-k-dick

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  6. How To Save The World, One Video Game At A Time : NPR

    Every week, people across the globe spend 3 billion hours playing video games, but that isn’t enough for Jane McGonigal. She says video games can help solve some of the world’s biggest problems —€” and we really should be playing more.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135248010/how-to-save-the-world-one-video-game-at-a-time

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. Jane McGonigal: How Video Games Can Make a Better World

    Can problems like poverty and climate change by fixed through games? Visionary game designer Jane McGonigal thinks they can. With more than 174 million gamers in the United States, McGonigal explores how we can save the world through the power of gaming. McGonigal is helping pioneer the fasting-growing genre of games that turns gameplay to achieve socially positive outcomes.

    This program was recorded in collaboration with the Commonwealth Club of California, on January 24, 2011.

    Jane McGonigal is the director of games research and development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California. She has created and deployed games and missions in more than 30 countries on six continents. She specializes in games that help gamers enjoy their real lives more — and games that challenge players to tackle real-world problems, through planetary-scale collaboration.

    McGonigal is the author of the newly released book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  8. Brian Greene: A Physicist Explains ‘The Hidden Reality’ Of Parallel Universes : NPR

    It is possible that there are many other universes that exist parallel to our universe. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, explains how that’s possible in the new book, The Hidden Reality.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/132932268/a-physicist-explains-why-parallel-universes-may-exist?&sc=tumblr

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  9. Computerworld Techcast: Ray Kurzweil, Part I: The future of computing

    In this episode of the Computerworld Techcast, Ray Kurzweil, author of The Singularity Is Near, explains the impact of the exponential growth of processing power in computers. In the interview, Kurzweil says that computing advances will go beyond making computers smaller and more powerful — they will eventually lead to pervasive computing, augmented reality, and vastly longer lifespans.Duration: 10 minutes

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/computerworld_techcast_ray_kurzweil_part_i_the_future_of_computing

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  10. Sean M Carroll on Origin of the Universe & the Arrow of Time

    Sean M. Carroll of CalTech discusses how the direction of the arrow of time was defined by the Big Bang. He also speculates about what might have come before the Big Bang. The lecture is entitled The Origin of the Universe & the Arrow of Time.

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

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