Home > Uncategorized > How does our brain recognize the difference between real world and hyper realistic animation world? – Quora

How does our brain recognize the difference between real world and hyper realistic animation world? – Quora

(my answer on Quora)

We may not know as much about perception as we think that we do. While  we have become comfortable with the scientific explanations of the  processing of sensory signals and how to simulate them, there may be  much more to it than that. Of course we understand that there is much  more to reality than we can perceive, and that our perception can be  more easily manipulated than we would have thought possible, but that  does not mean that there are not also other ways of knowing and seeing  which we are not consciously aware of.

The phenomenon of the Uncanny valley is the statistical ‘valley’ or region of

“negative emotional response towards robots that seem “almost human”.

There is a sense of creepiness which relates to the animation of inanimate bodies. The depiction of zombies or ventriloquist puppets that come to life are part of the horror genre because we have a deep revulsion to something which is not alive but is imbued with agency and the power to move by itself. The concept of the ‘undead’ is a supernatural theme, which is similar to, but not identical to the unnatural quality that we find in computer animation. Compare the following:


Impressive for its time, but to me, these characters look unnatural, eerie, fake, etc. It is an aesthetic shock, along the lines of unexpectedly realizing that someone has a prosthetic limb.

Looking at a claymation analog like Gumby, there is a similar doll-like emptiness, but it seems to be partially compensated by the honesty of the materials. There is concretely real stuff there, it’s not an abstract imitation of material bodies. The contrast of the odd, synthetic quality with the lo-fi childish content comes out quirky and somewhat charming.

Here it can be seen how adding dimension and realism can detract from the character rather than improve it. As a 2-D cartoon, Homer Simpson has no uncanny qualities – it is a direct expression of a genuine cartoon artist. In the 3-D version, there is some of that surprise of confronting an imposter or alien.

There may be no way, in fact, to simulate reality in such a way that all people will be fooled all of the time. I propose that this may not only be true because no simulation can be sophisticated enough, but also because reality may have within it a kind of breadcrumb trail which connects back to the total set of true and real conditions of the universe. We may only be aware of some of that breadcrumb trail at some times, and some people may be more or less tuned into that intuitive capacity than others, but if that is true, then there is no reason to presume that it is emergent from the function of the brain alone.

Just as we use eyeballs to condition our sensitivity to light, to focus and see outside of our brain and into the world, our entire body, may contribute to our consciousness in ways which we do not yet understand. It may go further than that, if we believe the accounts of people who claim to see auras…perhaps there is an electromagnetic or chemo-hormonal sensitivity which extends beyond the skin. The universality of idioms such as ‘gut feeling’, ‘feel it in my bones’, and ‘touched my heart’ may not be entirely fictional, particularly since the gut has a nervous system of its own, and the heart produces its own magnetic field.

Because a cartoon or photograph is only a visual experience, we already are very limited in how many sense modalities we can use to perceive it. While we might argue over whether an AI can pass a Turing Test on the basis of text interaction, few would argue that simulating the physical presence of a live human being in real time and real space, whom you could touch and look in the eyes is something that will be possible any time soon.

Authenticity may be more than the sum of its measurable parts. Authenticity may not be an emergent phenomenon which can be constructed through mass imitation on a sub-threshold level from the bottom up. Instead, authenticity may be a vital and intrinsic property of the whole, which can only be pointed to by a model. The entire assumption that reality can be substituted with total sensory satisfaction, even with perfect technology, may be false. The brain does not have to recognize the difference between the fake and the real, it just has to feel what all of the different senses it uses are feeling and compare them to its expectations, both local expectations, and perhaps non-local or absolute truths.

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