Our human interface with reality

The Paradox:

1/. Our visual experience of Reality is vast:

Equivalent information rate of Thousands of Gigabits per Second

2/. The rate we can learn completely new information is tiny:  

No more than a few Tens of Bits per Second

A ratio of a hundred million to one!

See Diagram illustrating these huge differences

The Implication:

Our rich experience of Now seems millions of times more than we can possibly sense in the present moment.

So our “Now” must be almost entirely a construct from our remembered past, with just a little information from what we sense in this moment.

Read the Book

Bottleneck – Our human interface with reality

 The disturbing and exciting implications of its true nature

By Richard Epworth

A book about the Narrowness of Now
and the incredible science of human learning

What we discover when we apply information science to psychology

Explore the Information Science behind
The Brain with David Eagleman

(The excellent documentary series on PBS & BBC TV)

 Video: Networked Humans – the last bit of the connection we forgot to check

Elon Musk’s Neuralink: Great news for Humans, disappointing for Superhumans 

2 comments on “Home

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Dunc on March 14, 2017 2:21 pm

Hi Richard,

I just looked at your you-tube video of the IET lecture. I was going to just flip through it but ended up watching the whole thing- it was really good. Thanks for posting it.

I do find your research and evidence fascinating and compelling, but even after what you have told me it still feels like I perceive that I am viewing a high resolution video feed.

If I look at a scene, I perceive a rich environment of colour, shade, shapes etc. However the instant I shut my eyes this perception completely disappears and I am left with a vague memory which has no ‘picture’ of the colour, shape, form of the actual scene. Where has my internal model gone?

What is it about looking at a scene that makes me perceive and believe that I am seeing something in such rich detail?



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Anonymous on March 14, 2017 2:39 pm

Good Questions
“the question ‘how is it that I perceive that I am viewing a high resolution video feed’? “
The reason the image disappears when you shut your eyes is that it makes sense for our to switch off the internal representation. In my book I write about the experience of being blindfolded for several days and how I gradually developed a very comprehensive sense of “sight”.

“what is it about looking at a scene that makes me perceive and believe that I am seeing something in such rich detail. “
Looking at something within a scene merely tells your brain where to focus its attention within the internal model, and what difference it can learn from the little which is sensed. The level of detail which your mind provides, is the level of detail in your model, modified by the extent to which you require detail. When we change the focus of our eyes, we only do so as far as is necessary to extract the information, so reading large text does not require us to focus on the text, it would be a waste of eye muscle energy.

I need to create a bit of video which simulates what our eyes actually experience. This requires that the camera pointing direction flicks around details in the scene, just as my point of gaze.
If your minds eye experienced this, the view you experienced would be jerking around, and you might even be nauseous. The video would also need to have a dramatic fall off in resolution from the centre. Remember that the eye is only as good as a 0.1 Megapixel sensor, but with most of the pixels concentrated around the centre degree or so.

I know it’s difficult to believe, but what you see is entirely a simulation. None of it is what your eye experiences directly. It’s your minds best guess of what is out there. The least out-of-date bits are those around the centre of gaze when we are giving it attention, but the scene still needs to be shifted around to make the world around us appear stationary while our head and eyes wander.

Which eye do you see through? Probably a virtual one between your two eyes!
Lastly try looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror, and switching from looking at one eye then the other. You are unable to see the angular rotation of your eyes, though someone else will be able to see your eyes swivelling when you do it. Incidentally the brain switches off the input during these rapid eye rotations (saccades).

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