Truth vs Reality: How we evolved to survive, not to see what’s really there

Take the circumstances in your life seriously, but not literally. Here's why.

  • Galileo was quite controversial, in part, because he argued that Earth moved around the sun, despite people's senses deluding them that the world was static.
  • Evolution may have primed us to see the world in terms of payoffs rather than absolute reality — this has actually helped us survive. Those who win payoffs are more likely to pass on their genes, which encode these strategies to get to the "next level" of life.
  • It's important to listen to people's objections because they may bring something to your attention outside your ken. Learn from them to make your ideas sharper.
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If reality is a data structure, can the simulation theory hold up?

Exploring the idea that objects we perceive in everyday life do not reflect objective reality.

  • Professor of cognitive science Donald Hoffman presents his theory that the world we perceive is a virtual reality. Hoffman has tested this theory by running successful computer simulations that suggest there is no objective reality.
  • When it comes to Nick Bostrom's simulation theory, Hoffman agrees with parts and disagrees with others. Hoffman argues that, while space time and physical objects do not correspond with objective reality, conscious experiences like the smell of garlic and the feel of velvet cannot be produced by the simulation.
  • "You can't start with unconscious ingredients and boot up consciousness," Hoffman says.
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In VR, boys and girls learn differently

Study looks at who/what they prefer learning from

  • In a study, 33 girls preferred to learn from a young VR researcher named Marie — 33 boys did better with lessons from a robot drone
  • It's expected that the future of learning is VR
  • Is it better to be guided by someone like you, or something else entirely?
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What would it take to create a fully immersive virtual reality?

How could we create a technology capable of replacing our own reality?

Photo credit: David McNew / Getty Images
  • Immersion would consist of a complete perception of existing in another world.
  • This idea has been the backbone of numerous stories and would be akin to The Matrix world.
  • Our current VR technology is nowhere near close to giving us this science fiction experience.
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Why practicing empathy matters, and how VR can help

VR's coolest feature? Boosting compassion and empathy.

  • Virtual reality fills us with awe and adrenaline — and the technology is only at a crude stage, explains VR filmmaker Danfung Dennis. It's capable of inspiring something much greater in us: empathy.
  • With coming technological advancements in pixel display, haptics, and sound tracking, VR users will finally be able to know what it's like to really take another person's perspective. Empathy is inherent in humans (and other animal species), but just as it can be squashed, it must be practiced in order to develop.
  • "This ability to improve ourselves to become a more empathetic and compassionate society is what I hope we will use this technology for," Dennis says.
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