It's My Reality and I'm Sticking to It

You are an electro-mechanical device or machine, even if it's the product of biological evolution. You certainly operate on electricity (converted from the chemical energy in your foods); you're certainly mechanical. Those bones, joints, muscles; your movements, are certainly mechanical in nature and biomechanical engineering is certainly an active academic pursuit, especially for athletes and those with skeletal-muscular abnormalities.

Part of that electro-mechanical you is your brain – more electrical than mechanical, though engineered never-the-less. Your brain houses a very up close and personal part of you – your mind. Your mind is the key to your reality which will not be the same as anyone else's reality and in fact your reality maybe totally unreal.

The only thing you know that is really real is your mind. Everything else could be an illusion to a greater or lesser degree. Even your mind could be an artificial construction rather than a natural one and you would be none the wiser, but at least an artificial mind would still be a really real mind to you.

Your mind is the gateway to your perceptions of reality. If you have no mind (like before your conception) you have no perception of reality.


Your reality is twofold. There's your here-and-now reality, reality as perceived by your five senses and channeled into your wetware; there's your there-and-then reality, reality stored as your memory inside your wetware.

In either case, your reality is all in your mind. Your brain chemistry; your neural network wiring are where you're here-and-now and there-and-then reality lie.

But is that reality accurate? Would your reality match someone else's version of the exact same events? No!


Your brain chemistry is never the exact same moment to moment. Ditto for every other odd bod and sod on the planet.

What determines your brain chemistry? Your age; genetic makeup and background heritage; foods and beverages; sleep patterns; what drugs and/or medicines you use; pollutants in your immediate environment; disease and/or injury to the brain or nervous system; even outside manipulation, say electrode stimulation by a neuroscientist.

Your brain chemistry isn't the same as anybody else's. If everybody's brain chemistry were the same, if everyone were hardwired up the same (neural networks), then each and every one of us would like and dislike the exact same things equally. Each election would be a 100% landslide for all votes would go to one candidate. Even the opposing candidate would vote for their opponent, which is all nonsense as the two candidates (in fact all candidates) would have identical worldviews/policies. There would be no such thing as ‘different strokes for different folks' and as such the world would be in one hell of a mess.


When it comes to your five senses, your mind doesn't receive the original stimulus or stimuli, only a crude copy that's been translated into another language – one that your mind can interpret and come to terms with.

Your mind didn't receive that photon of light – just an electrical signal describing the information that photon carried.

Your mind didn't receive that sound wave – just an electrical signal describing the information that sound wave carried.

Your mind didn't receive that molecule of food odor or taste – just an electrical signal describing the odor or taste information that molecule carried.

Your mind didn't receive that cat scratch – just an electrical signal describing the sensation of receiving a cat scratch elsewhere.

Everything ‘real' in the here-and-now is the sum product of the feed via electrical signals into your mind via your five senses. But the ‘real' in your mind is a crude copy of the ‘real' outside your mind as input gets translated in the process and any translation is never as good as the original.

Another facet to that is that your five senses can be tricked into perceiving illusions. You've experienced optical illusions. A common one is the perception that the Sun goes around the Earth. We still say that the Sun rises and the Sun sets as if the Sun were moving and not the Earth rotating. Your perceived reality and real reality aren't the same. There's also taste and smell illusions that can be perpetrated. There are illusions with touch and no doubt audio illusions as well. Mankind's technology helps confuse the picture too. A hologram looks 3-D and solid but isn't. The mind, via the senses, can be fooled into accepting six (or more) impossible things even before you've sat down to breakfast!

You'd be well aware that witnesses in courtroom cases will have their ability to translate what they experienced via their five senses into reliable data that can be recalled into question when the guilt or innocence of the accused is at stake. You'd probably be aware that there are seemingly millions of psychology studies that prove again and again that eyewitness testimony isn't worth squat and can be easily manipulated via the power of suggestion.

Using independent instrumentation to verify reality like a thermometer or Geiger counter isn't any better as their readings are meaningless until you use your five senses to read the readings resulting in the same translation issues and thus you're back to square one.

Even if you have absolutely perfect sensory apparatus, your reality will be relative, not absolute, to someone else's reality as Einstein so aptly demonstrated. Without going into a longwinded example, just accept that you may see Event A happen before Event B. Someone else in a different frame of reference sees Event B happen before Event A. Yet another person sees Event A and Event B occur simultaneously. That's why it's Einstein's Theory of General and Special Relativity, not Einstein's Theory of General and Special Absolutes.


Your Reality: Strike One: Your brain chemistry isn't reliable or consistent.

Your Reality: Strike Two: Your five senses that input to mind isn't reliable.

Your Reality: Strike Three: Your memory is definitely not reliable. Memory is not infallible as those courtroom dramas often highlight.

So, if 100 people experience an event, and have to recall that event say ten years later, how many versions of really real reality are you going to get? What odds that even one of these recollections will be 100% spot on?  What odds that none reflect that really real reality (RRR) of that event (assuming such a concept as RRR in the first place of course)?


What if someone or something else is pulling your chain? So far I've gone on the scenario that there's a really real reality out there for you to experience and absorb. You are pulling your own chain; dancing to your own tune. Now what if some significant other is calling the shots?

You are a natural entity with wetware rooted in carbon chemistry

- A bit outside the scope of normality or what passes for normality, there are whole textbooks full of case studies of brains that haven't been hardwired up quite correctly and so you've cases of people hearing colors or mistaking their wife for a hat or who have multiple personalities or seriously believe they are Alexander the Great, Jesus, or say President Kennedy.

- Although it doesn't necessarily follow, there are those who believe that those who see ghosts or aliens or angels or the Loch Ness Monster are fantasy prone; just internally generated visions that's all in the mind. Can shamans, mystics, gurus, and related really visit an otherworld of alternate realities, or are they too just fantasy prone, with perhaps some help from smoking the good stuff. Of course if they are experiencing such things, well that in turn might be evidence for alternative realities.

- And don't we as adults construct an entire fantasy world for children – Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, even the Bogyman who'll, we say, do nasty things to naughty kids. Don't children on their own construct fantasy worlds they live in along with invisible playmates? I wonder if there's anything really different in principle between children believing in their invisible friends and adults putting their faith in invisible deities.

- Adults too immerse themselves in fantasy worlds from putting on virtual reality helmets to boldly go (the 20th Century version of the Star Trek holodeck), to actually dressing up in Star Trek or Star Wars outfits as various characters from those (and other) fictional worlds, to participating in all sorts of role-playing scenarios. Though one would hope that when doing dress-up for masquerade balls and attending fantasy conventions, the adults would be aware that they are doing make-believe. You'd hope that though some fans (fanatics?) can get really carried away to extremes, like naming their kids after their favorite fantasy character, collecting thousands of items of memorabilia, even say modeling and outfitting their home to resemble the interior sets of say the Starship Enterprise. It's been done! Though I suspect this must be a modern phenomenon. I don't recall ever hearing about people in the 17th, 18th or 19th Centuries playing at King Arthur, holding mock battles and jousting contests, though maybe I'm wrong on that. It's certainly common today for hundreds to play dress-up and reenact Civil War engagements, and there's many a wannabe cowboy out there in suburbia.

- Your natural brain-in-a-vat scenario might be where some ‘mad' scientist has cultured some brain cells in a petri dish and eventually grown a full-sized brain-in-a-vat which is kept stimulated 24/7 with electrical impulses – your reality. Or, perhaps your body has aged and kicked-the-bucket but your brain – still alive and ‘kicking' – has been removed and kept alive but in ‘storage', but still requiring stimulation, pending a suitable transplant into another body whose brain has died.

- Your natural brain is being manipulated scenario. Say you're a patient in a hospital in a coma, or undergoing a neurosurgical operation and your brain is being stimulated in an effort to determine what's what. Perhaps that stimulation is what you take, while in your coma, or under-the-knife, to be your reality – but all you sense and remember is really being induced. There might even be a time dilation effect. Presumably you could electrically stimulate the brain such that the brain would experience or remember years worth of experiences but the applied stimulus is just taking a few minutes.

- You're dreaming. You are really a bug-eyed-monster from the planet Zork; or a pussy cat; or even a human; but you're asleep and dreaming this alternative lifestyle which in this dream state you are interpreting as your actual reality. Until you wake up, your dream IS your reality.

- One or many? You could philosophically argue that the sum total of life, the universe and everything is illusionary and just the product of Your Mind. Life, the universe and everything (all else but your mind) is just Your Mind playing games, a created illusion or construction to keep Your Mind from being bored. Or, you see someone in the shops and you conclude that as you see them, they see you, and both of you have a perception that there's a really real reality and both of you are a part of that. That's the common sense worldview, but the universe doesn't always play by common sense principles. Of course it's possible that the both of you are all part of a larger mass hallucination; that you aren't The Mind, but rather one of the creations of The Mind of someone else.

There is no way you could distinguish any of the above realities from your perception of what's really real.


You are an artificial entity

Needless to relate, there has been a massive amount of theoretical and practical research dedicated towards the goal of creating an artificial mind, a silicon chip mind or a mind made out of silicon chips, machine intelligence, otherwise more commonly known as artificial intelligence. The reasons are manifold, from just the academic pursuit of seeing if it can be done for the sake of seeing if it can be done, to practical applications like designing robots that can assist in making the lives of the handicapped or elderly or the lonely more bearable or beating the pants off of some egomaniac chess champion, to putting artificial intelligence to the same sorts of creative use that wetware intelligence is put to. Perhaps an artificial intelligence can put two and two together and come up with a Theory of Everything, the Holy Grail of physics. Artificial intelligence can also boldly go where wetware intelligence cannot since silicon chips are a bit more durable under extreme environmental conditions than flesh-and-blood.

Put another way, if Mother Nature can evolve flesh-and-blood intelligence, then that flesh-and-blood intelligence can create and evolve machine intelligence (and ultimately that machine intelligence can further evolve and advance the capabilities of machine intelligence). The basic reason is that there is no difference in principle between a squishy neural network, and a silicon chip network. It all operates on electrical connections, complex connects it is true, but just wiring. Now, the question arises, is your mind a squishy neural network or a silicon chip network? There's also a third possibility. Your mind isn't physical at all – squishy or silicon – but mathematical. Your mind is just computer code.

- Your artificial ‘brain'-in-a-vat scenario might revolve around the idea that you, or rather your mind, is just a processing machine sitting on a bench top or on a shelf, maybe as a prototype, being fed data (that's your reality) to see if your silicon chips are able to ‘think' outside the box relative to your mind just being a sophisticated adding machine.

- Your artificial ‘brain' is manipulated (programmed) scenario might be akin to you being a fully functional robotic android though programmed not to know in order to better integrate into the society that created you. If you cut yourself and bleed and feel pain, that's just a programmed illusion. When you ‘die' (your programmed use-by date) you're recycled/reassembled – a form of reincarnation. Most of your memories are false ones programmed into you, so you believe you had a childhood for example.

- Finally, you are neither flesh-and-blood nor silicon chips. You're just bits and bytes inside a computer. You're a piece of software. You're a simulated being just existing in virtual reality, created by others; manipulated by others without any awareness of this on your part.

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