You Are Running on Defective Hardware

Part of the transhumanist cause is based on the failures of the human brain. The wetware running “you” is whatever evolution cobbled together over several eons. My new favorite example? Blue and green. Just click and look, because I cannot explain it any better. I even double-checked the graphics myself.

Your brain does not work correctly. Upgrade as soon as the technology is available.

: Zubon

Link via Volokh, and see also.

8 thoughts on “You Are Running on Defective Hardware

  1. drshmoo

    To offer a slightly different perspective: this property of vision which might be seen as a flaw is also an elegant solution to a very difficult problem!

    As the linked post points out, we see the two RGB(0,255,150) spirals as “greener” when placed on an orange background and “bluer” when placed on a magenta background. Now consider another property of color vision. You are able, as an example, to recognize a yellow t-shirt as “yellow” under an astounding array of different light conditions: full spectrum light outdoors on a sunny day, in blue moonlight, under narrow spectrum fluorescent lights, and even, amazingly, under the yellow-orange of streetlights, where nearly everything looks yellow. The actual intensities and distribution of wavelengths emerging from the yellow t-shirt and hitting your eye are different under all of these conditions, and yet our visual processing system is robust enough to consistently “see” the t-shirt as yellow.

    These two properties of vision are the result of the same underlying process. The perception of color is inherently comparative; evidence suggests that we perform both a local-neighborhood and whole field background subtraction to enhance color contrast (the former leading to the phenomenon exemplified by the “Blue and green” trick). It is quite challenging to design image processing strategies in the digital world which maintain robust color constancy, even in relatively simple contexts. Yet, our brains perform this processing on-the-fly for the whole of our visual field. For a recent review of the latest neuroscience (which brings us closer to an understanding of how this processing is accomplished), see:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19436076

    Four billion years is quite a long time to cobble…

  2. Dblade

    Nice optical illusion, but I’ll keep my own body, thanks. I don’t want to be running Eyesight version 6.0 and deal with the whole patching process. Let alone all the viruses, and wetware compatibility issues. I mean, do I pick Microsoft version, or Open Source my Eyesight? I’m not too good at browsing forums to trouble shoot what happens if the retina fails to initialize.

    Plus I know this guy who upgraded after getting into a beta test for a new company. He was really raving about how it actually solved that problem, you know, of processing correct colors through visual noise? Too bad the founder raided the company dry and is off in Estonia somewheres, and the start-up folded.

    Believe me, you don’t want to have to uninstall and downgrade Eyesight to even 5.0. He still can’t make out red or green, and he’s been in the shop for weeks.

    Plus anyways, in 4 years the kids are going to get that new Wet OS, Spectrum 8. I’m not sure if I should just wait for that, or chance keeping my old OS. The RAM is getting pretty low, and every now and then my sense of smell freezes up. Thankfully it seems to do that on strawberries, but still, it takes multiple restarts somedays.

    The perils of upgrading defective hardware. *Sigh*.

  3. Julian

    I’ll go with drshmoo’s explanation, if you don’t mind.

    Are you ready? Everybody now… deep breath… go…

    IT’S NOT A BUG, IT’S A FEATURE!

  4. Zubon Post author

    Julian, that still means a bug. Recognizing a yellow shirt in blue light is a feature. Seeing the same RGB value one centimeter away on a static image as a different color is a side effect of that feature. Negative side effects of otherwise useful code are bugs.

    The same code that helps your brain find patterns in reality also makes up patterns where none exist. The first part is a feature, the second is a bug in that feature.

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