What is Real? – Optical Illusions Video from Facebook F8 2015

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‘Mind Blown’ was the consensus coming from Facebook’s 2015 F8 Conference. Michael Abrash, chief scientist from virtual reality company Oculus Rift takes the audience through the rabbit hole, quoting Morpheus from The Matrix films. Optical Illusions from the video are included in the article to reveal that our experience of reality is quite virtual already. 

What is Real?

As Morpheus put it: “What is ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’? If you are talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Abrash continues: “Rich as it seems to be, our visual data (that we receive) is actually astonishingly sparse… We have far too little data to reconstruct the world accurately.”

“Experiences are nothing more than what the mind infers from the (sparse) information it receives… Your brain is taking the very limited signals coming from your senses and trying to infer what the state of the real world is based on an internal model”

“[Our] brain is reverse engineering reality rather than recording it”

“I think it’s fair to say that our experience of the world is an illusion.” – More of a creation in the brain than an accurate representation of reality.

But as Abrash says, “it’s one thing to hear this, and entirely different to experience this.”

Optical illusions show us our perceptions and constructions of reality at play. Some of the visual illustrations from Abrash’s presentation follow here.

By the way, if you have any doubts of the validity of the claims being made below, feel free to download the images and check the colors in Photoshop or similar photo editor which allows you to find the hexadecimal color codes. I just did that while working with these images and it is quite amazing to see the actual colors versus how they appear.

Welcome to The Matrix of Optical Illusions

Blue Pill or Red Pill?

As Morpheus asks Neo in The Matrix movie, would you like the blue pill or the red pill?

Optical Illusions Matrix Blue Pill Red Pill

Actually They’re Grey

Both pills on the left and right hands are the same shade of grey as revealed when you cut out the background colors as shown in the image below. Now even when you know both pills are the same grey color, when you look at the image above, your can’t help but see blue or red. Your brain infers the colors you see based on other cues. But this color inference is happening only in your head.

Optical Illusions Matrix Blue Pill Red Pill Grey Pills

Blue & Yellow Cubes

Notice the squares highlighted by arrows, the blue squares on the left side and the yellow squares on the right.

Optical Illusions Color Cubes Blue Yellow

Once again, they are the same shade of grey as revealed in the image below. But even when you know the squares in question are grey, your brain still infers blue or yellow squares according to the different background cues seen in the image above.

Optical Illusions Color Cubes Blue Yellow Grey

Black & White Tiles

Notice the top row of black and white tiles.

Optical Illusions Black White Grey Tiles

The center three tiles in the top row are in fact the same shade of grey as revealed below where the background is cut out. Yet when you look at the image above, your brain is actively picking up cues, inferring a pattern, and guessing what the colors must be according to light, shadow, and colors of the scene. Grey in a well lit area must be black. Grey under shadow of the table must be white.

Optical Illusions Black White Grey Tiles Overlay

OMG The Dress!

This is the exact same phenomena that sparked the Dress meme which divided people who saw the same photo of a dress as either black and blue or white and gold. Both parties held emphatically to their version of reality. Here is our post about The Dress Explained Through Science.

Reality is Virtual

Michael’s presentation has other provocative examples of our perceptions at work and there are many more which we can explore. As Michael mentions in the video, we have blind spots in each eye which we’re unaware of in our daily living, our center of focus is quite small and the surrounding area a blur, we don’t have depth perception past 20 feet. Yet we infer depth, size, dimensions, colors, a 3D world surrounding us based on visual and sensory cues, memories, and an internalized model of the world.

With the limited information we actually receive, we construct a world that feels very real. We infer that the world we see is out there. But the latest brain science research flips the reality we experience back squarely in our minds. Leaving us with our ‘Reality is Virtual.’

Now if we’re all greatly inferring our experience of the world, what does that mean about what we know and feel to be true? What does this mean about what we infer of others, ourselves, our lives, how we communicate and relate?

Continue further down the rabbit as we explore these implications at Awake Free through articles such as Worlds Colliding and Blazing Movement of Understanding.

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– Jeff –

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One Comment

  1. Sardar Singh April 6, 2015 5:29 pm

    We are always amazed whenever we discover something new about our own nature and reality. Human beings may in some ways interpret reality differently but such differences do not create any problem. The problem occurs when the mind creates differences on the basis of ideas that have no relationship with reality. Numerous problems arise when we act on the basis of inferences and interpretations arising out of past psychological knowledge that has been accumulated in the brain because of false assumptions.

    In the last paragraph, Jeff raises very important questions of great significance. He writes:

    “Now if we’re all greatly inferring our experience of the world, what does that mean about what we know and feel to be true? What does that mean about what we infer of others, ourselves, our lives, how we communicate and relate?”

    What we infer of others, ourselves, our lives, how we communicate and relate largely depends upon the way our brain operates on the basis of images that it has formed and not on the basis of truth, not on the basis of love, affection and compassion. That is why we do not have healthy and harmonious relationships with each other.

    It would be good to examine this aspect of human predicament in greater detail.

    Sardar Singh

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