Reality

While I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, I got another big piece of the puzzle. There is a module called the Reality Module which is responsible for creating my experiences. This is how it works inside my head.

I have senses which receive the data I call the primitive data types. These include (and there may be more):

  • Images (this is the primary sense in humans)
  • Sounds
  • Tastes (a complex subject, more later)
  • Smells (ditto)
  • Touch experiences
  • Sexual experiences (different from touch, more later)
  • A time-based datatype I call the Moment
  • Pain, itching, and other discomforts
  • Body awareness other than pain (includes things like sneezing, urinating, etc.)
  • Emotions (probably the most interesting, more later)

These various sensory datatypes are tied to pieces of hardware in the human body. Things like ears, eyes, touch sensory organs in the skin, and so forth. I have a dedicated Module in my HCP which processes each of these input streams. Each sensory module feeds the output of that process to the Reality Module.

Think of the Reality Module as a kind of Master Control Program (remember Tron?). All other Modules in the HCP (pretty much) run inside the Reality Module. This module takes the input it receives from the sensory modules and maps it onto a filter. I call this filter the Context.

Assume for the moment that there is an objective, absolute, reality. I still maintain that this idea is unproven, and unprovable. The world may be an illusion, nothing more. But for purposes of this discussion, please assume that there is an objective reality. Let’s call that reality the sum total of the environment around me. We will refer to this reality as the variable R.

R is constantly changing, though, as reality flows along the temporal stream. And so I as an organism in the environment am receiving a constant stream of input reflecting an image of that objective reality. This is the first distortion: My senses are far from perfect, and so I see only an image (constantly darkening as I age) of whatever R actually is. Call that reality S, for sensory reality. And S<R, always, because S has the distortion of my physical body, with my limited, failing hardware.

Then comes the big distortion: Reality takes that input and maps it onto all other modules in the entire HCP. Again, the Context. This is effectively the set of assumptions in the form of culture that I possess as a human. The value of S will then again take a big swack, and we get the state that I call D, for delusional.

Yes, oddly I know that I am still delusional. And I always will be, as long as I am running this piece of software in my head. The best I can do, from what I can tell, is to optimize the process. As I told my wife that I want on my tombstone:

Maturity consists in accurately perceiving reality and appropriately responding to that perception

A practical example may help. I have a module running in my head I call Marriage. All humans have this module, pretty much. It is a fundamental nature of humans to be married. All cultures have their particular take on marriage. But everyone gets married, pretty much. Given that, this module looks to me to be a built-in, i.e. instinctive module.

Now, my particular culture has a form of marriage referred to as Monogamy, but in practice is much more like polygamy. Essentially, my wife and I enter into a fiction in which we both agree to behave in a manner in which we believe that we will both be completely faithful and loving to each other. And then we are able to make the assumption that we will each be there for each other no matter what.

As I told my wife tonight, this is obviously complete hogwash. All I would have to do is to be sufficiently insufferable, cruel, arbitrary, dishonest, and just plain mean, and my wife would flee from me. I know this utterly. However, by living inside a Context which contains this particular form of Marriage, I am able to pretend that the outcome of my life does not depend on me. That I cannot blow it sufficiently to completely drive away my wife. This reduces my stress and allows me to behave in a much more calm manner in all of my interactions with my wife. Unless, of course, I let go of that particular delusion. Then what happens?

Well, that one turns out to be pretty interesting.

More later.

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