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- Jun 2022
the brain didn't actually evolve to see the world the way it is. We can't. Instead, the brain evolved to see the world the way it was useful to see in the past. 00:11:53 And how we see is by continually redefining normality. So, how can we take this incredible capacity of plasticity of the brain and get people to experience their world differently? Well, one of the ways we do it in my lab and studio is we translate the light into sound, and we enable people to hear their visual world. And they can navigate the world using their ears. 00:12:22 Here's David on the right, and he's holding a camera. On the left is what his camera sees. And you'll see there's a faint line going across that image. That line is broken up into 32 squares. In each square, we calculate the average color. And then we just simply translate that into sound. And now he's going to turn around, close his eyes, and find a plate on the ground with his eyes closed. 00:12:47 (Continuous sound) (Sound changes momentarily) (Sound changes momentarily) (Sound changes momentarily) (Sound changes momentarily) (Sound changes momentarily) Beau Lotto: He finds it. Amazing, right? So not only can we create a prosthetic for the visually impaired, but we can also investigate how people literally make sense of the world. But we can also do something else. We can also make music with color. 00:13:20 So, working with kids, they created images, thinking about what might the images you see sound like if we could listen to them. And then we translated these images. And this is one of those images. And this is a six-year-old child composing a piece of music for a 32-piece orchestra. And this is what it sounds like. (Electronic representation of orchestral music) 00:14:06 So, a six-year-old child. Okay? Now, what does all this mean? What this suggests is that no one is an outside observer of nature, okay? We're not defined by our central properties, by the bits that make us up. We're defined by our environment and our interaction with that environment, by our ecology. And that ecology is necessarily relative, historical and empirical.
remapping patterns normally experienced in on sensory modality to other sensory modality. This work is like that of Neuroscientist David Eagleman, ie. his vest that translates sound patterns into tactile patterns on a vest and allowing deaf person to "hear" words through feeling corresponding tactile signals.
Donald Hoffman also advocates for evolutionary fitness as what gives meaning to our perceptions of the world.