Computer Analogy

If two monitors are connected to the computer we expect them to show similar (but not absolutely identical) images. If not then it is probably because they are adjusted differently, or there may be a fault in one of them or in the software, or perhaps one of them is near a strong magnetic field. But no particular image is intrinsically right or wrong. We may desire the picture to have a particular color balance, and we adjust the software and the monitor to match these expectations and conventions. But there is no right way. It is just how we agree to interpret the data. A monitor showing a different interpretation is not wrong, just different.

When we interact with the computer it is easy to think we are interacting with the image on the screen, but we are not. When we select a part of the image with the mouse and drag it across the screen, it appears as if we are moving the image around. In reality we are sending messages to the computer to modify the state of its memory chips, and we see the effect of that on the screen. Presentday computers are so fast that we do not experience any lag between the movement of the mouse and the movement of the image on the screen; although thirty years ago, when computers were first connected to monitors, there could be a delay of many seconds, or even minutes, between giving a command to the computer and seeing the effects on the screen.

It is the same with the world we observe around us -- except that instead of being a picture on a two-dimensional screen, our image of reality is three-dimensional, super high-resolution, with high-fidelity surround-sound, and tangible, with odours, tastes, sensations and other qualities. We think we are interacting with the world we see, but in reality we are interacting with the underlying physical world and seeing the effects of that in the image of reality created in the mind. When I pick up a cup there is actually a delay of about a tenth a second between the movement in physical reality and my experience of that movement -- that is the time it takes for the brain to process the sensory information and create the experience. Thus my experience of reality is always about a tenth of a second behind physical reality. We never notice any lag, however, because the brain cleverly compensates for the delay, leaving us with the impression that we are interacting directly with the world as we experience it.


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