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  1. Assume Nothing — Faraz PJ
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Assume Nothing — Faraz PJ

Unless Don, Jr. The meeting is presented as one in which no information passed hands. As I told JB , I take it as basically a given that this claim is a lie. Were there other messages delivered?

Angsty-Me Reads - "Assume Nothing"

All of this remains unclear. By Josh Marshall. More Edblog. But you can't sense any of those by yourself, at least not yet, because you don't come equipped with the proper sensors. Our experience of reality is constrained by our biology, which goes against the common sense notion that our eyes, ears and our fingertips are just picking up the objective reality out there. Instead, our brains are sampling just a little bit of the world. In the animal kingdom, different animals pick up on different parts of reality.

In the blind and deaf world of a tick, the important signals are temperature and butyric acid; in the world of the black ghost knifefish, its sensory world is lavishly colored by electrical fields; and for the echolocating bat, its reality is constructed out of air compression waves. It is the slice of their ecosystem they can pick up on. Instead, what we all do is accept reality as it's presented to us.

Imagine you are a bloodhound dog. Your whole world is about smell. You've got a long snout, which has million scent receptors in it, and you have wet nostrils to attract and trap scent molecules, your nostrils even have slits so you can take in a large amount of air. Everything is about smell for you. One day, you stop in your tracks with a revelation. You look at your human owner and you think, "What is it like to have the pitiful, impoverished nose of a human?

What is it like when you take a feeble little amount of air? Because we're humans, we've never experienced their world of smell, so we don't miss it. But the question is, do we have to be stuck there? In the future, technology will expand our senses and it is going to change the experience of being human. We already know we can marry our technology to our biology because there are hundreds of thousands of people walking around with artificial hearing and artificial vision.

The way this works is to take a microphone and digitize the signal, and you put an electrode strip directly into the inner ear. Or, with the retinal implant, you take a camera and you digitize the signal, and then you plug an electrode grid directly into the optic nerve.

Your brain is not hearing or seeing any of this. It is locked in a vault of silence and darkness inside your skull. All it ever sees are electrochemical signals coming along different data cables, and this is all it has to work with, and nothing more. The brain is really good at taking in these signals and extracting patterns and assigning meaning, so it takes this inner cosmos and puts together a story of your subjective world. Here's the key point: Your brain doesn't know, or care, where it receives the data. Whatever information comes in, it just figures out what to do with it.

This is a very efficient kind of machine. It's essentially a general purpose-computing device, and it just takes in everything and figures out what it's going to do with it. There's nothing really special or fundamental about our biology. It's what we have inherited from a complex road of evolution. But it's not what we have to stick with, and our best proof of principle of this comes from what's called sensory substitution.

There is no end to the possibilities on the horizon for human expansion. Just imagine an astronaut being able to feel the overall health of the International Space Station, or having you feel the invisible states of your own health, like your blood sugar or having degree vision, and seeing in infrared or ultraviolet. The key is this: As we move into the future, we're going to increasingly be able to choose our own peripheral devices. We no longer have to wait for Mother Nature's sensory gifts on her timescales. Instead, like any good parent, she's given us the tools so we need to go out and define our own trajectory.

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We actually have no idea what the theoretical limits are of what kind of data the brain can take in. We know it is extraordinarily flexible. So when a person goes blind, what we used to call their visual cortex gets taken over by other things, by touch, by hearing and by vocabulary. What it tells us is the cortex is kind of a one-trick pony. It just runs certain kinds of computations on things. And when we look around at things like braille, people are getting information through bumps on their fingers.

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