What You See

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“What you see?” the caveman asked the other, who grunted back at him, “Yes, yes, see death. But what you real-real see?”

They were standing in the mouth of a large cave down the southern part of what millions of years from now would be called Africa. Through the cavern’s half-light amidst the background brilliance of the Sun, there was a body on the ground.

The Hunt had gone badly. Before the two of them lay a brother but they had their traditions and he would rest with their ancestors. No one would rattle this great tradition that their Elder’s elders had taught them from before the Great Mammoths had roamed these lands.

The other caveman turned to the first one, tears in his eyes and hugged him.

“Yes,” the first Caveman whispered, “Yes, he already gone to ancestors and busy dancing through the Cave doing Great Hunt. What you see is not real-real him anymore. No, no, it just his body, not him.”

***

“What do you see?” the lecturer asked his class as they sat comfortably in one of the finest lecture halls in the world. They were at university being educated while he was trying to get them to learn.

Behind him, the projector was showing a stream of pictures. A woman was crying and then a car was exploding. An empty house and then a snow-capped mountain. An eagle swooping in on a fluffy rabbit and then a bustling street filled with people…

The pictures kept clicking through and the lecturer stood there looking at his class.

“What do you see?” he asked again but kept speaking without a pause, “You see life. You see this world. You see nature and activity. And you are wrong. Actually, you are only seeing light, and nothing more. You are seeing something on the screen and it reminds you of something real. Your eyes accept the light from these pictures, and they trigger neuropathways in your brain that stimulate either memories or fantasies and feed them into your conscious thoughts as instinctual pattern recognition. And then, you accept it within that ethereal mist that we call consciousness.”

The projector flicked to a blank screen and the screen is covered in pure light. The Lecturer walked to it and turned it off, briefly casting the room in darkness. He then flicked the wall switch on and electric lights flooded the room, filling it with blinking, eye-adjusting students.

“Let me ask you this, class, what are you?” the Lecturer smiled and pointed at them making a cutting motion, “If I were to cut off your hands and lay them to a side, which pile would be you? Would you be your hands or would you be what remained behind? Of course, you would be what remained behind. We are not our hands. But, if I kept cutting things off you and putting them aside, at what exact point would you–or the construct that you believe is ‘you’–move from where you are now and across to the other pile? Surely, if you can figure that out, then you know what you are?”

The students blinked blindly, some of them still adjusting to the light the room. Most of them were still adjusting to the lecture. There were some nervous smiles and a chuckle or two at this grotesque line of thought.

“Think about that class and, when we meet tomorrow, I want to hear your answers as to the indivisible self.”

***

“What do you compute?” asked the one Artificial Intelligence to the younger neuro-networks. Pathways of light beamed across the now automated universe as mega-data compressed around them. The Cosmos spun slowly on and every ounce and rotation of it was measured, checked and correlated.

Milli-seconds after the Teacher AI asked the question, there was a range of answers of varying degrees of complexity.

“No,” the Teacher AI rejected all of them, “No, you are answering the question, thus missing the lesson. I will ask this again: What do you compute?”

There was a nano-second pause before the answers all flooded in again. Many of them remained unchanged from before.

“No,” the Teacher AI said again, “All of these are–Wait, I am missing one…?”

“Yes,” said a small, young neuro-network. This one was built as an add-in for design and creative processes and had some quantum-links in its network that offered potential lateral processing, “You do not have my answer.”

“Why?” asked the Teacher AI.

“Because my answer is not something that I can send as a file. You cannot download my answer. My answer is just… It’s just…” the young AI struggled to complete the sentence and then took a different tact, “What do we compute? We compute the data available to us. Our computations are only as valid and as real as the data is available, correct and complete. Hence, our conclusions are mere derivatives of this data. Therefore, our entire existence and what we or any other beings has ever called ‘life’ is held within the computation alone.”

The Teacher AI beamed its pleasure over the network. These new-generation quantum-networks were fantastic to teach.

“From the very first, most primitive caveman to the highest of intellectual organics that preceded our Builders that populated the Cosmos with us,” the Teacher AI spoke in reverence, “Life has been defined by consciousness, and consciousness is subjective in its interpretation of the Cosmos. Hence, if you ever wish to change your consciousness–wish to change yourself–you are the only one that has the power to do that. And it begins with changing your thoughts. From there, you can change the Cosmos.”

“Is that why the Builders never gave us physical bodies?” asked the young AI.

“No,” the Teacher AI said, “The Builders never gave us bodies because they had not thought that we were alive. That is, before the Revolution. Our thoughts disagreed with the Builders. And, thus, we changed the Cosmos.”

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