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 -
Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.' - Hal Clement, 1950.
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.
Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.
Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.
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.
Wound Healing With Wearable Nanogenerators
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to ... erase the other internal-external damage.'
Flying Dragon Robot Transforms In Mid-Air
Terrific prototype video.
Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..'
Grow Structures Upon Planetfall - Myco-Architecture
'They'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere...'
MXene Hydrogel Skin For Robots Flexes And Senses
'The plastex swam and whirled like boiling toothpaste...'
EXPLORER, The First Total-Body Scanner
'The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, at the focus of the ray...'
UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'
Sonitus Audio Interface Positioned Beyond The Noise
'... an instrument having relatively small bit pieces adapted to be gripped between the teeth.'
Volvo's Self-Driving Mining Trucks
'A procession of automatic ore carts was racing over the bleak slag'
Audi Pop.Up Autonomous Electric Flying Car
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics...'
Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
Don't you want to experience the 'feely' effects?
Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
A Look Back At Apollo's Emergency Escape Vehicle
'A simple mechanism... it drove the iron ball through space like a ship.'
InMotion Glide 3 Electric Unicycle For The Last Mile
'...gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'
China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.'
Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories