Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is?
Donald Hoffman - Cognitive scientist
Donald Hoffman studies how our visual perception, guided by millions of years of natural selection, authors every aspect of our everyday reality. Full bio
unsolved mystery in science,
between your brain
of the taste of chocolate
as a state of consciousness comes about
when Aladdin rubbed his lamp."
it was a mystery.
about brain activity,
between brain activity
is still a mystery.
that we can't solve this problem
concepts and intelligence.
problems in quantum mechanics,
our species to solve this problem either.
made a false assumption.
might solve this problem.
what that assumption is,
as a red tomato a meter away.
that in reality,
changes to a gray field,
there's a red tomato a meter away?
the nature of my perceptions?
our perceptions before.
because it looks that way.
is the unmoving center of the Universe,
again, that we were wrong.
be misinterpreting our experiences
odors, colors, and so on
all these qualities would be annihilated."
our experiences that badly?
have to say about this?
that about a third of the brain's cortex
and look about this room,
and trillions of synapses are engaged.
we think about vision at all,
of objective reality as it is.
that's like a camera:
an image on the back of the eye
the billions of neurons
that are engaged in vision.
that they are creating, in real time,
and motions that we see.
of this room the way it is,
everything that we see.
the whole world at once.
that are quite compelling
with bits cut out of them,
the disks a little bit,
pop out of the screen.
that you're experiencing
with pretty sharp edges
is changing the colors of dots
the glowing blue bars
but these are just two
that I describe as a red tomato,
an accurate reconstruction
even if I weren't looking.
say that we don't just construct,
who saw more accurately
to those who saw less accurately,
to pass on their genes.
who saw more accurately,
in the normal case,
because it is so accurate."
are fitter perceptions.
of evolutionary theory?
of examples in nature.
of course, for a hot female.
has a massive brain
into the outback.
are dimpled, glossy,
to tickle the fancy of these beetles.
the bottles trying to mate.
in the real females.
leaving the female for the bottle.
to save its beetles.
found females for thousands,
as it is, but apparently not.
glossy and brown,
the male couldn't discover his mistake.
they're very simple creatures,
but you get the idea. (Laughter)
seeing reality as it is?
to wave our hands and guess;
to check this out.
in artificial worlds compete
equations is fitness.
for the fitness of an animal?
it enhances fitness.
it doesn't enhance fitness.
it doesn't enhance fitness,
on reality as it is, yes,
its state and its action.
as reality as it is,
and not reality as it is,
in the equations of evolution.
of evolutionary game simulations
randomly chosen worlds
for resources in those worlds.
see all of the reality,
but perception of reality goes extinct.
that perceive reality as it is.
does not favor vertical,
the world accurately
for thousands, perhaps millions of years,
of evolution are telling us
are in the same boat as the jewel beetle.
and hacks that keep us alive.
reality as it is be useful?
a very helpful metaphor:
for a TED Talk that you're writing.
of the desktop.
in the computer is blue,
right-hand corner of the computer?
the purpose of the interface.
the reality of the computer.
the megabytes of software.
you could never write your text file
has given us an interface
perceive them right now,
in that desktop.
coming down the track at 200 MPH
and your theory with you,
to that train than just an icon.
in front of that train
that icon to the trash can:
or rectangular --
that are designed to keep us alive.
and we should take them seriously.
should take them literally.
nothing really new here.
that the metal of that train looks solid
with microscopic particles zipping around.
that blue icon on the desktop
magnifying glass and look really closely,
on the desktop, and that's the point.
are still in space and time:
than those physicists.
is the cube that you construct.
constructs the cube that we see.
we each see the train that we construct,
of all physical objects.
is like a window on reality as it is.
that this is an incorrect interpretation
the complexity of the real world
the icons in that desktop.
because it looks that way.
is the unmoving center of reality
that once again, we're wrong.
of our perceptual experiences.
when you don't look,
and physical objects.
of spacetime and objects
to let go of its bottle.
to our own blindnesses.
over the jewel beetle:
is not the unmoving center of reality,
of the theory of evolution
that I describe as a red tomato,
and is nothing like a red tomato.
that I describe as a lion or a steak,
that I describe as a brain, or neurons,
have no causal powers.
set of symbols, a hack.
for the mystery of consciousness?
that causes our conscious experiences.
interacting network of conscious agents,
each other's conscious experiences.
an idea as it seems,
about the nature of reality,
about life's greatest mystery.
turning out to be more fascinating
with the ultimate dare:
is not about seeing truth,
is just in your head.
really you there, thank you.
may just be profoundly depressed
if evolution does not favor reality,
undermine all our endeavors here,
that we can think the truth,
your own theory, if you go there?
stop us from a successful science.
that turned out to be false,
and reality is like our perceptions.
all sorts of other theories
that one of our theories was false.
There's no problem here.
-- (Laughter) --
I think is it's possible that evolution
very good point.
showed were specifically about perception,
have been shaped
about our logic or mathematics.
but my bet is that we'll find
for our logic and our mathematics
math and logic is not easy.
the selection pressures are not
to look at each cognitive faculty
what evolution does to it.
be true about math and logic.
is a kind of modern-day Bishop Berkeley
not the other way around.
different than Berkeley.
and he thought that the ultimate
and so forth,
where Berkeley's going,
different from Berkeley.
It's actually a very different approach.
for hours, and I hope to do that.
DH: Thank you. (Applause)
About the speaker:Donald Hoffman - Cognitive scientist
Donald Hoffman studies how our visual perception, guided by millions of years of natural selection, authors every aspect of our everyday reality.
Why you should listen
In his research to uncover the underlying secrets of human perception, Donald Hoffman has discovered important clues pointing to the subjective nature of reality.
Rather than as a set of absolute physical principles, reality is best understood as a set of phenomena our brain constructs to guide our behavior. To put it simply: we actively create everything we see, and there is no aspect of reality that does not depend on consciousness.
Hoffman is a faculty member at UC Irvine and a recipient of the Troland Award of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Donald Hoffman | Speaker | TED.com