reality

Donald Hoffman | Full Interview | The Case Against Reality

[Music]

I was wondering whether we could discuss

a bit about your idea that perception is

not like a window but instead it's more

like a 3d desktop does that mean that

there is nothing outside the mind or

does it just mean that we get we

perceive something in an indirect way

right so most of my colleagues in

cognitive neuroscience believe that our

senses were shaped by natural selection

that we evolved and that the selection

pressures are such that those creatures

that saw the world more accurately had a

competitive advantage over those who saw

less accurately and so they were more

likely to pass on their genes that coded

for the accurate perceptions and so the

result is after thousands of generations

we're the offspring of those who saw the

world more accurately and so we can be

pretty confident that when I see tables

and chairs and the Sun and the moon and

so forth that I'm seeing reality as it

is

no one believes we see all of reality of

course we only see the parts that we

need to see but that the parts that we

do see we're seeing truthfully and so

I've looked at that from the point of

view of the mathematics of evolution the

evolutionary game theory and we can

actually run simulations to see what

happens and we can prove theorems and

we've done both and the bottom line is

that the probability if our senses

evolved in we're shaped by natural

selection the probability that we see

reality as it is is zero and that that

means not simply that I know I don't

quite see the shape of a chair correctly

or I don't quite see the colors

correctly it's it's much deeper than

that the problem is that the very

language of space and time and physical

objects is the wrong language to

describe objective reality you could not

frame a true description of the world in

that language it's not possible so it's

not that we get it off a little bit here

or there it's that this whole thing is

just the wrong framework for describing

reality so that seems so

counterintuitive and so out there that I

think

metaphors needed to help understand how

it might be working and the metaphor I

like is the user interface on you know

the desktop interface on your computer

if you're writing an email and the icon

for that email is blue and rectangular

and in the middle of your screen

does that mean that the email itself the

file in your computer is blue

rectangular and in the middle of the

computer well of course not anybody who

thought that misunderstands the point of

the desktop interface it's not there to

show you the truth in this metaphor the

truth be the circuits and the voltages

and magnetic fields all that complexity

most of us don't want to know about that

that's really nasty if you had to toggle

voltages to craft an email your friends

wouldn't hear from you it's just too

hard

so what evolution has done for us is its

evolved us sensory systems touch smell

sight sound hearing all of this all

these sensory interfaces as a user

interface that the purpose is to hide

reality completely to hide really just

like your desktop interface on your

computer is there to hide the circuits

you don't want to know about the

circuits and yet it allows you to

control the circuits right by using

icons and dragging them and clicking and

so forth you can control the reality

without knowing anything at all about it

and that's what evolution did 3

dimensional space is your desktop it's a

three dimensional desktop not just a two

dimensional desktop and the icons are

three dimensional not just flat they're

what we call physical objects so tables

and chairs and spoons and forks these

are icons that evolution is shaped to

tell us about Fitness payoffs and how to

get them so it's all about fitness even

space itself is about Fitness the

distance between me and an apple 10

meters away versus 10 miles away is

telling me that it will cost me fewer

calories to get the Apple 10 meters away

it'll cost me a lot of calories to get

the Apple 10 miles away probably I

should go for the Apple that's 10 meters

away so even space itself is

representing Fitness payoffs and fitness

costs

and so so evolution in short has shaped

us with a user interface that hides

reality on purpose or you know purposes

in quotes the evolution is just a

process but but the effect of the PERT

of the process is really to hide reality

so that so that you're not distracted by

it and you can you you can control

reality without actually knowing what it

is so now the question that you asked is

what is that reality and meet the right

answer is I don't know right if the very

predicates the the language of our

perceptions according to our one of our

best theory is you know evolution by

natural selection if the very language

of our perceptions is the wrong language

to describe reality then it's a tough

problem I what I'm doing as a scientist

as I'm suggesting that well I'm trying

to understand a specific scientific

problem which is for me it's called a

hard problem of consciousness and I'm

trying to think of a theory of reality

that will allow me to solve this hard

problem of consciousness the problem is

this we have a lot of interesting data

that gives us correlations between

certain kinds of brain activity and

certain conscious experiences that we

have so for example we know that if I

take a powerful magnet called a trans

Meg a transcranial magnetic stimulator

and touch it to part of the skull that's

just next to an area called v4 and if I

inhibit my neural activity in that area

immediately

all color will drain from the left part

of my visual world I'll just see shades

of gray I'll still see color in the

right part of the visual world but not

in the left then you turn off the magnet

and color it comes flowing back in so

there's this very interesting

correlation between interference with

neural activity and income the right

hemisphere and loss of certain kind of

conscious experience in the left visual

world we can do that with motion if I

put the stimulator over an area called

v5 I can turn off my ability to

experience motion in the left

filled and it turns out that in in the

science of you know cognitive

neuroscience we've discovered scores

maybe hundreds of these kinds of

correlations so correlations are the raw

data this brain activity is correlated

with that conscious experience and well

of course correlations are not a theory

rooster crows are correlated with

sunrises but that's not a theory for

example does a rooster crow cause a

sunrise well no that's we would tend to

think it might go the other way but but

it's hard to go from correlations to a

genuine theory of what's causing it you

might say well so for example we know

that brain activity that we can measure

with EEG electroencephalograms

we can predict your choices that you'll

make in certain cases your free will

choices seven seconds before you can

tell me what you're going to choose so

here again when brain activity is

cleanly correlated with your experience

7 seconds later of a choice that you're

making so here again we have this

correlation and in this case you might

say well ok here clearly the theory is

the brain activity came first the

experience of feeling like you had a

free will choice came a few seconds

later

so clearly the brain activity had to

cause it and that's too quick another

example a counter example is if you look

at a train station a bunch of people

assemble at the train station a few

minutes later the train appears did the

people coming to the train station cause

the train to appear no they didn't so

even though the correlation is tight

every time a group of people appears a

train appears a few minutes later is not

the case that the people appearing

caused the train to appear there's some

third entity namely a train schedule

that's coordinating broke both so we

have to be very very careful when we

have correlations that's not the same

thing as a theory and then the final

example is

you might say well look when you

actually take that magnet and stimulate

area before or inhibit it you're

intervening and by intervening we can

actually figure out what's causing what

right so you turn off before color goes

away surely that shows that v4 causes

the color experience and that's also too

fast if I'm in a virtual reality game

like Grand Theft Auto and I've got a

steering wheel I can say look I can

intervene I can turn the steering wheel

to the left that will make the car turn

to the left therefore the the steering

wheel is real and it really does have an

effect on a real car no it's not there's

again a hidden reality of diodes and

resistors all the circuits that's

mediating this it only we only have the

fiction of intervening and in a fiction

of causality so the problem we have in

the hard problem of consciousness is

this scientists have gotten dozens maybe

hundreds of these tight correlations we

do not have a theory we cannot explain

why neural activity is correlated with

conscious experiences in particular we

can't offer a single consc experience

like say by conscious experience I mean

something really simple like having a

headache experiencing color

the taste of vanilla the theories that

are proposed are basically only believed

by the graduate students of the

professor who proposes them and and no

theory that's been proposed can even

predict or or specify the conditions for

a single experience like the taste of

vanilla so if you think that neural

activity causes the taste of vanilla

precisely what neural activity is

causing the taste of vanilla and how

does it do it no one has any idea or if

they say that neural activity is

identical to the taste of vanilla then

as a scientist I want to say okay tell

me with mathematical precision what

exactly is the matter the neural

activity that's identical to vanilla and

why is it identical

it's anybody can say anything you know I

can say the moon is identical to two

blue cheese and just stipulate it

presumably you need to give me some

reason why I should believe in the

identity so they can't specify the

identity and and much less say why the

identity should be plausible so that's

the problem we've got it's it's a really

deep open scientific problem and it's

very personal

we all have conscious experiences we

would like to understand what's and we

also we also have brains we'd like to

understand what's happening here what's

why are these correlations there and so

the theory of evolution that I mentioned

that says we don't see reality as it is

has a really strange consequence it

means that when I see a physical object

like an apple effectively I'm creating

that Apple as a data structure in my

interface much like if I'm in a virtual

reality and I have a headset on and

every time I turn over here I will see

something I'm rendering that in real

time I see an apple as I go over here

I'm no longer rendering I you know the

Apple is gone but as soon as I turn over

there yet I will again create a

three-dimensional Apple so I'm saying

this doesn't just happen in virtual

reality it happens in everyday life I

look over here I see an apple

I'm literally creating that data

structure because now I'm effectively an

Apple as a description of fitness

payoffs and how to get them it's all

about fitness that's the key thing

evolution is all about fitness but that

means that the objects don't exist as

pre-existing things when I see an apple

we like to think well I'm that's because

there really is an apple and I'm saying

no no there's some other reality out

there but just like the blue icon on

your desktop doesn't resemble the true

file the Apple does not resemble

anything in objective reality it's an

abstract data structure that's just

telling you how to act to get fitness

payoffs here's the kicker when you look

inside your brain inside your skull and

you see a brain that's also just a data

structure that you're creating neurons

are just data structures they don't

exist and this is the weird stuff I

don't have a brain

when no one looks and some of my

colleagues would say yeah I agree with

that you don't have a brain but but they

have the point of this is that that we

create any physical object that we see

in the moment that we see it and so

neurons don't exist when they're not

perceived therefore neurons could not be

the source of our conscious experiences

in fact space-time itself is just your

data structure so the idea that

space-time exists and has existed for 14

billion years as a pre-existing stage on

which the drama of life plays out is

also deeply wrong space-time itself is

just a data structure that would create

so what is reality it's long answer to

your question but the answer is I don't

know but I'm trying to come up with a

reality that would allow me to solve

this hard problem of consciousness so if

the brain is just a symbol that we

create when we look you know trying to

understand how consciousness is related

to it if I start with during which

consciousness is fundamental and I have

to do it scientifically say what do I

mean precisely by a consciousness with

mathematical precision and and I have

this theory of that called conscious

agents in which conscious agents

interact it's like a the proposal is

that reality is a vast social network

it's a heat like a Twitter verse or

Facebook so it's a big social network of

conscious agents that's the reality

they're not in space and time there

they're just consciousness is

interacting with each other as they

interact they are passing experiences

back and forth and there's it's an

infinite Twitterverse yeah an infinite

set of consciousness is out there in

this in this big social universe social

you know yeah social networking

universally and any single conscious

agent in that network would be

overwhelmed trying to understand all of

it like if you're trying to understand

Twitter there's tens of millions

hundreds of millions of users billions

of tweets how are you going to try to

understand what's going on in the

Twitterverse well you can't but what you

can do is you can use visualization

tools suppose I have a visualization

tool that compresses that all down shows

you what's trending in this city and

what's trending over there so you

compress it all down and maybe into

something that you can

through a headset so that you can

actually look here's the Twitterverse

and in London here's the Twitterverse

and Edinboro and so forth and here's

what's what's going on here's what's

trending then you could sort of

visualize it that's what evolution did

for us the reality is this big vast

social network of interacting conscious

agents each individual agent would be

overwhelmed because it's infinite social

network and so what we call the physical

world just is our visualization tool

that's what we have so we've mistaken so

this is all a big visualization tool

space-time and physical objects are the

way we visualize our interaction with

this vast universe of social networking

at university I'll give you one concrete

example to really bring it home when you

look at your face in the mirror all you

see literally is skin hair and eyes but

what you know firsthand that you don't

see in the mirror is the whole universe

of your conscious experiences your hopes

your desires your aspirations your

headache the the sound of music that

you're hearing right now your love of

music all the stuff that's you that's

it's almost infinitely complicated

universe of conscious experiences all we

can see is this and compared to the vast

universe of our conscious experience

this is extremely simple

if I smile you can guess that I'm happy

I'm filling some conscious experience

but a smile does not resemble happiness

it's just it signifies it and so think

about it this way your face my face the

the face that you're creating when you

look at me is your portal into my

conscious experiences the face that I

see when I look at you is my portal into

your conscious experience it's a portal

but it's very very small portal most of

you is left out you can't see it in the

mirror I can't see it from outside when

I look at my cat the portal is even

worse I mean I can figure out maybe the

cat likes this kind of food and doesn't

like that likes it when I pet but now

I've petted it too much now I need a

stop when I look at an ant

my interface is really giving up I have

no insight into the conscious agents in

this vast network that I'm interacting

with and when I get to what I call a

rock my interface has given up but it

has to give up I have a finite interface

I'm dealing with an infinite social

network of course the interface that's

its purpose as to throw most of the

information away to simplify things and

allow me to negotiate with this universe

of you know interacting conscious agents

without getting overwhelmed and so of

course at some point it's not gonna look

conscious anymore at all my interface is

giving up what we've done is we've

mistaken a necessary limitation of our

interface as a and we've taken it to be

an insight into the fundamental

fundamental nature of reality we've

assumed it reality fundamentally is

unconscious because at the simplest

level our interface is necessarily

unconscious so physicalism is a very

simple mistake this assumption that

space time and matter are fundamental is

a simple mistake we've mistaken a limit

of our interface as an insight into

objective reality but it's it we can we

can break out of it it's it's the

natural mistake we could break out of it

okay so where do you stand in relation

to pants.i chasm then if we if we ended

on physicalism that's the obvious kind

of opposite theory to physical is so so

pants I could pad psychism is an

interesting theory there are a couple of

versions of it and when I talk to

different pants I kists they they will

say no that's not my version so I'll

talk about two different versions of it

that so in one version is more dualist

so an electron really exists and it

really does have physical properties

whether or not it's observed like

position momentum and spin but in

addition it has a unit of consciousness

and when electron and a proton get

together then somehow the unit of

consciousness from the electron and the

unit of consciousness from the proton

have to interact to create the

consciousness of you know of the to put

they're coming together right into

hydrogen say

so that's that's one theory it's dualist

and most scientists don't like dualism

right so so most scientists would just

not even go there if it may you know

it's not that it's wrong it's just that

we try to come up with a simplest theory

so another version of pants psychism

that some people talk about it in some

sense is what you would just say well

what I was already saying that the

fundamental nature of reality just is

consciousness and some pants I kiss that

I've talked with will will say when I

talk about all these conscious agents

the word agent makes it sound like

there's all these selves and

personalities and so forth and and I'm

not trying to imply that I'm just saying

that there are these elementary

perceivers that can have experiences and

take simple actions in the mathematical

model I don't assume that there's a self

I don't assume intelligence problem

solving creativity in memory even but

what I can show mathematically is I can

from the network with these simple

conscious agents I can build networks

that simulate selves that simulate

intelligence that have memories and so

forth so so that that version if that's

what people mean by pen psychism then

then it's equivalent to what I'm saying

but I like to just call my theory

conscious realism because I want to be

very very clear that I'm saying that

consciousness is fundamental and I'm

proposing I mean I don't know what the

truth is I'm just a scientist I'm just

proposing a bold hypothesis that

constant ISM consciousness is

fundamental and it's real now if that's

false it's false we'll find out but the

idea of science is to be precise and

bold so that we can precisely find out

where we're wrong so I'm making a

precise and bull hypothesis and it's

mathematically precise I published it so

any scientist can go out there and say

this is what's wrong with the

mathematics but that's the whole goal of

course I'm probably wrong I don't think

any scientific theory I've read so far

is correct including general relativity

and quantum field theory and so forth

they're brilliant they're wonderful

tools we should study them they're the

best we've got so far and they're almost

surely deeply wrong

and so the same is true of my theory I

won't say it's brilliant ball say it's

probably deeply wrong at least as

precise what does it mean that

consciousness is real as real as well

that's that's a great question and this

brings up a really important aspect

about scientific theories and it's a

aspect of scientific theories it really

bothers me in science we cannot explain

everything we always in our theories we

have to say please grant me these two or

three assumptions we want them as few as

possible but those assumptions are just

given the theory does not explain them

they're like miracles with respect to

the theory and in the scientist and says

if you will grab me these assumptions

then I can build this really powerful

theory so for example grant me

space-time and quantum fields if you'll

grant me that then I can then show you

how you know chemistry and biology and

psychology and you know so forth might

arise from that and so the the point in

any scientific theory is you have to say

I'm proposing these things are

fundamental in the universe how did they

get there I don't know I really don't

know just please grant me that in it in

that sense they're real with respect to

the theory these are the fundamental

assumptions about quote-unquote reality

that the scientific theory is making so

it's in that sense I'm saying for sake

of argument please grant me that

conscious experience is like the taste

of vanilla having a headache that these

are the fundamental furniture of the

universe not space-time and atoms and

quarks and so forth the these raw

experiences as as experiences are the

fundamental aspect of reality so for my

theory those are the miracles those are

the miracles and then if you grant me

that then I will show how we can create

space-time and physical objects as a

user interface to this whole vast social

network of these conscious experiencers

that are having these experiences where

the experiences themselves are taken for

granted but the dynamics about the

experiences now is where we can do our

science where we can actually have

an explanation how did you get to these

ideas and did you ever believe in the

mainstream ideas about reality and

consciousness

I absolutely believe the mainstream

ideas and I still remember it was 1986

when I was working on a mathematical

model of perception with a couple of

colleagues Bruce Bennett and shaitaan

Prakash and we'd work out a mathematical

model of I wasn't really working on the

consciousness thing per se I was working

on just how can we get a general theory

about what it means to when we're

perceiving and it was looking at the

mathematics that I suddenly realized

that it was suggesting to me that we

might not necessarily have to see

reality as it is and that was so

stunning I had to sit down but it took

me another 20 years before I decided to

actually pursue that using evolutionary

game theory I began to say okay is it

really true if if our senses evolved and

we're shaped by natural selection can I

settle this issue would natural

selection actually favor perceptions

that show us the truth not all the truth

but some of the truth or will natural

selection actually drive truth to

complete extinction and then it was

stunning to me I was surprised how the

math came out when it actually said for

very deep principle reasons that natural

selection would drive any true

perceptions to complete extinction so so

it's been it's not just been an

intellectual Odyssey it's been an

emotional Odyssey this is upsetting it's

actually upsetting to realize that

something I deeply believed all my life

is just fundamentally wrong and so I can

understand why people might hear this

and go that this is just too crazy does

it change the way you experience day

experience life on a day-to-day basis

very very slowly it's been slowly

changing I think and there may be a good

reason evolutionarily I mean evolution

there's no selection pressures for us to

know that we don't see the truth right

if you're if you have a user interface

and it's working to keep you alive long

enough to reproduce it's doing what it

needs to do there's no selection

pressures to also tell you oh by the way

this is just a game you're not you're

not seeing the truth this is just a user

interface and and so we deeply believe

it we in fact we believe that because we

have to take our perceptions seriously

right if we read that we should

therefore also take them literally I

mean one objection people give to me is

to say you know Don if you're if you

think that that train coming down the

tracks at 200 miles an hour is just an

icon in your interface why don't you

just hop in front of it and after you're

dead and this silly theory with you will

know that that train was real it's not

just an icon and it really can kill and

and I wouldn't jump in front of the

train for the same reason I wouldn't

drag my blue icon to the trashcan icon

carelessly not because I take the icon

literally the the file is not blue and

rectangular but I do take the icon

seriously if I drag it to the trashcan

I could lose my work maybe I've written

a book and has taken me a couple of

years I could lose all that work so I

better take the icon seriously but that

does not entitle me to take it literally

and so that's part of human nature we

were inclined to this illogical

assumption that because we have to take

all of our perceptions seriously we're

entitled today to take them literally

the reason we have to take them

seriously is evolution shape them to

keep us alive so if you see a cliff

don't step off if you see a snake don't

grab it unless you know what you're

doing if you see a train don't jump in

front you have to take it seriously but

that does not logically entitle us to

take it literally so as a result it's

not a surprise that even after I've sort

of intellectually began to realize that

that's what evolution is done this is

just an interface is not the truth when

I'm not you know putting on my rational

head and thinking about it I'm just

living everyday life oh this is this is

the truth and that's the way it feels

it's been many many years I'm slowly

starting to have a different set of

feelings like oh this is a headset I'm

now rendering that chair I'm now

rendering that light it's but it's very

very slow for it mean usually I fall

back into the normal I'm just immersed

in the truth but virtual reality is

actually helpful to actually spend time

in a virtual reality world which you

realize oh yeah I'm rendering a full 3d

world now I just deleted that whole 3d

world I'm not rendering it anymore oh

wow that's maybe what's also happening

in everyday life the headset when I take

off a virtual reality headset there's

another headset that I've always had on

that I didn't know and it's what I

called reality but it's just another

virtual world that evolution programmed

into us and so but I would say I would

say I'm maybe 98% in I'm this is the

truth and 2% of the time now so as you

know after years it so it doesn't go

away easily and does that affect the way

you interact with other people does it

kind of um is it challenged the way you

see you you communicate with people what

does it mean for our relationships to

think that actually what we see is and

what there is is it harder to trust

another person if you think that this is

all a mirage and it's just an icon on my

desktop well I think that it gives me a

deeper respect for how much more

complicated people are than what we can

literally see where you know the the

example I gave of your seeing your face

in the mirror and realizing that the the

range of a inferences I can make about

what you're feeling and thinking based

on your expressions in your body

language is really a small fraction of

of who you really are and all the the

richness mean so I can just see small

nuances of a smile but there are many

many nuances of feeling happy and bliss

that are completely lost on me that I

know exists personally but I don't know

which one you're having and so one thing

I think it does is it makes me really

appreciate that

I shouldn't assume I know what you're

really feeling I should really be

careful to engage more and to to you

talk more so it gives you that kind of

perspective evolutionary psychology also

that will some work by in cognitive

neuroscience and evolutionary psychology

also makes me be very very careful we

know that in there's certain split brain

patients they've had epilepsy and that

wasn't curable by the available drugs

and so they did a surgery where they cut

the brain in half so that the right

hemisphere was separated from the left

hemisphere and if the right hemisphere

went into an epileptic seizure maybe the

left wouldn't go into it and it worked

clinically if it was very very helpful

but what we found was we literally cut

consciousness in half with a knife

the right hemisphere ends up having you

can show in experiments you can give it

a completely separate content of

consciousness it can be aware of for

example the word key whereas the left

hemisphere is aware of the word ring and

nobody is aware of the phrase key ring

or the two together and we find that the

personalities are different the right

hemisphere often has a different

personality than the left and that the

left the one person for example that vs

Roma Condren studied the left hemisphere

believed in God the right hemisphere was

an atheist very very big difference in

personalities and the left hemisphere as

it turns out likes to make up stories

it's a confabulate er or a Steve Pinker

puts it a baloney generator and the

right hemisphere and many people tends

to be a little bit more in tune with

reality and also a little bit less happy

so so that that kind of knowledge also

affects my social relations it affects

my relationship with myself I don't

believe most of what I used to think

were my true motivations for why I'm

behaving the way I do much of that is

probably just baloney that I'm making up

to make myself seem rational and

reasonable and a good nice guy but then

most everybody else is doing the same

thing we're really hiding our true

motives and so that's why it's

difficult and personal relationships not

like we're consciously being

disingenuous it's an automatic

self-promotion mechanism that's built

into us and so these kinds of insights

that we get from the science not just

from my theory but from cognitive

neuroscience and you know split brain

operations and so forth really do begin

to affect how I understand people but

but not to say that I end up with a

negative view of people I think it's

it's just healthier to understand in

great greater depth the complexity of

people I think that it I shouldn't take

as much for granted as I used to and

shouldn't make as many assumptions about

people and why they're behaving as they

used to so people now seem even more

real to you that's right I'm proposing

that your consciousness is a fundamental

reality in this vast social network of

conscious agents and what one thing that

comes out and what the math is in my

theory is that when two conscious agents

interact they create a new single

conscious agent and this so you can have

very very simple agents that have very

very simple like only two experiences

and maybe two actions that they can take

I call them one bit agents but when two

of these one bit agents interact you get

a two bit agent that has maybe four

possibilities and and by the time you

get to me I don't know how many billions

or trillions or who knows how many but

then think about my two hemispheres

there's evidence that when the corpus

callosum is cut they have separate

consciousnesses with potentially

separate contents and separate

personalities and even separate

religious beliefs but when they're

connected with the corpus callosum

there's what I call me there seems to be

a single unified person and so that's

not another interesting thing that comes

out of this is trying to understand this

theory opens up the idea that that

you're real and that you're also too

conscious agents not just one conscious

agent you're two and the theory says

you're a whole infinite lattice all the

way down to these simple 1-bit agents

going all the way up to the two

hemispheres and finally to the one agent

that's you

then the theory leaves open the

possibility that that just in

interacting with other conscious agents

other agents are being formed and but

apparently I mean I don't experience

that and it's an interesting thing to

look at in the mathematical theory how

much can an agent know about the agents

that are emerging from its experiences

or interactions with other agents there

is some peer achill data on this Michael

Gazzaniga working with these split-brain

patients asked nor talked with a guy

with several of them they have this

blueprint operation me ask the person

does it feel any different now with the

split brain operation than it did before

and one one video I've seen the person

said absolutely not it feels just the

same as it was before and what we know

is that that's the left hemisphere

talking only of the left hemisphere can

talk

the right hemisphere can't talk to quit

it understands language and we know the

left hemisphere is a conveyor so when I

saw that I was going ok well maybe the

left left hemisphere was just saying you

know nothing to see here because trying

to make everything papered over but the

right hemisphere typically is not as

much as a fabulous so I asked

Gazzaniga a few weeks ago what about the

right hemisphere when you asked the

right hemisphere does it also say that

there's no difference and he said read

my book and he pointed me to he gave me

actually offered me his PDF he's so very

very kindly I looked in his book and the

answer is yes the right hemisphere also

says that it doesn't notice the

difference that's stunning data that's

some of the most important data that

I've ever seen from the split brain

stuff it's saying that the two

hemispheres there are 43 billion neurons

in the cortex of the right - here - 43

billion in the left and the right

hemisphere saying when I got cut off

from those 43 billion other neurons I

don't notice a difference that is a

stunning bit of data - can you know

to use in trying to frame a theory of

consciousness when to consciousness is

interact how do you create a new

consciousness and how much do the

lower-level consciousness actually know

about the higher-level consciousness

maybe almost nothing maybe nothing in

which case that's a stunning so you can

see there the possibility is that this

whole framework opens up when we take

consciousness is fundamental I start

looking at the neuroscience data in this

new way it's giving us insights into how

we might want to constrain our theories

of how consciousness works and what

happens when consciousness is interact

it's a completely new way of thinking so

does this mean that the two parts of our

brain interact a lot more than we think

what does it mean that they are both

quite autonomous and they they rapidly

they mirror each other or we're just

talking here you know I have a feeling

I'm just one person I don't have the

feeling of like to really separate

individuals that are negotiating and and

one is an atheist and one's a believer

and one's happy I mean sometimes you

might feel a little struggle do I do I

want a party tonight or do I want to

study I mean they're a little and maybe

you get little hints of some kind of but

most of time we feel like we're just a

single unified thing and yet we have

clear evidence that there's two so so I

don't know what to say it seems like it

it you know we're both that we're that

you are one but that the one that's

talking to you right now is not aware of

the two separate consciousness is and

those are probably not aware of the the

consciousness is underneath them when I

teach a psychology class I teach

introduction to psychology for freshmen

at the University I'll tell them at some

point during the course that 99% of all

mental processes are unconscious the way

that's normally interpreted is to say

that the brain is real most brain

processes don't give rise to

consciousness the ones that give rise to

consciousness are really just a tiny

fraction less than 1% I'm I'm turning it

around the other way

I'm saying it's consciousness all the

way down this is this whole vast social

network of conscious agents but my

interface has to simplify things so I

only can see my my whole network in

terms of what I call my body high levels

I've view it in terms of what I call my

psychology in my modes further on down I

call it my neuroscience my chemistry my

biology my physics but those are all my

interface just getting more and more

giving up at trying to represent what's

going on in this vast social network so

all I can do is see myself through my

interface description and what I see is

a body which is hiding this vast network

of conscious agents which is all

coordinating together to create the

single consciousness that's talking to

you so that's you can see it's a

completely different picture of what it

is means to be a human being and it

gives a new sense to what it means to be

embodied I mean embodied cognition is I

think important but this gives a new

sense that even our embodiment itself is

a picture that we come up with thank you

very much for more debates talks and

interviews subscribe today to the

institutes of Arts and ideas at IAI TV

you