We All See The Future Like Dick's 'Prethink'
According to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assistant professor Mark Changizi, we can all see the future; we do it every minute of every day.
His argument is drawn from facts about neural processing; it takes about one-tenth of a second for the brain to actually perceive - make sense - out of the data that the eyes send to the brain.
If that's true, how can we do things in real-time, like catch a ball? According to Changizi, our visual system has developed the ability to overcome this gap by presenting a constant projection to the brain. Our brains take the information that our eyes provide, and then present us with a projection of what things will look like in one-tenth of a second.
So, we're constantly seeing the future.
Using this idea, Professor Changizi was able to explain and systematically organize more than fifty types of visual illusions. He says that these "illusions" work because the brain is helplessly projecting what it believes will be happening in the near future.
For example, consider the Hering illusion shown below. The red lines are perceived as curved. This illusion occurs because our brains are predicting the ways that the underlying scene would change if we were moving in the direction of the vanishing point presented by the radial black lines.
(The Hering illusion)
He calls his hypothesis "perceiving-the-present" and presents his findings in the May-June issue of the journal Cognitive Science.
“Illusions occur when our brains attempt to perceive the future, and those perceptions don’t
match reality. There has been great success at discovering and documenting countless visual
illusions. There has been considerably less success in organizing them,” says Changizi, who is
lead author on the paper. “My research focused on systematizing these known incidents of
failed future seeing into a ‘periodic table’ of illusion classes that can predict a broad pattern of
the illusions we might be subject to.”
Naturally, this hypothesis is embraced with delight by science fiction fans. Philip K. Dick's marvelous 1954 story The Golden Man presented the idea that it might be possible to "prethink" like Cris Johnson.
"He can look ahead. See what's coming. He can - prethink. Let's call it that. He can see into the future. Probably he doesn't perceive it as the future."
"No," Anita said thoughtfully. "It would seem like the present.
What would happen if we could expand our ability to prethink?
"As he develops," Baines said, "as his race evolves, it'll probably expand its ability to prethink. Instead of ten minutes, thirty minutes. Then an hour. A day. A year. Eventually, they'll be able to keep ahead a whole lifetime..."
(Read more about prethink)
Find out more about "perceiving-the-present" in Crystal (Eye) Ball: Study Says Visual System Equipped With “Future Seeing Powers” (pdf); see also Changizi's website.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/22/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )
Related News Stories -
Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!
Is There Extraterrestrial Life Here In The Solar System
'How fast is it moving? ...one meter per minute.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1982.
Chinese Fern Helps Remediate Arsenic Soil
'Bioengeering had put out a spec report on the long crawly things five months back.' - Gregory Benford, 1983.
New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
SpaceX Starhopper Has Flash Gordon Style
SpaceX makes retro cool spacecraft.
Mindar The Robot Buddhist Priest Offers A Blessing
'Not working is the hardest work of all.'
Does Your Company Need A 'Chief Dreamer'?
As far as the future is concerned 'they're the only experts we have'.
Helios Modular Touch Screen Wall Lights
'The walls and ceiling bore an irregular spacing of illuminum tiles...'
Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'
Robot Hummingbird Hovers Biomimetically
'With a buzz... it started out on its journey.'
Harvest Water From Air With Sunlight
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
Capitalist Big Brother Co-Opts Regular Big Brother
'It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.'
A Floating Cosmodrome
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'
First Artificial Memory Formed In Animals
'Is an extra-factual memory that convincing?' Quail asked.
Maintain Your Megastructure
Megastructures have repair robots, which have repair robots, ad infinitum.
Venezuelans Teaching Your Self-Driving Car
‘She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...’
Robothread Robotic Worms Crawling Through Your Brain
Perfect for clot-busting in the human brain. No Raquel Welch and no lasers, though.
Vantablack BMW X6 Is Douglas Adams Approved
'It's so... black!' said Ford Prefect.
Humanoid Robot's Muscles Biomimic Ours
'It is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature...'
Animatronic Robotic Baby Exposed
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories