Donald Hoffman, Ph.D., has been a professor at UC Irvine since 1983 and holds appointments in the Departments of Cognitive Science, Computer Science, and Philosophy. He is author of the book Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (W.W. Norton, 2000), and coauthor of the book Automotive Lighting and Human Vision (Springer, 2007). His research on cognitive neuroscience and human visual perception received a Distinguished Scientific Award from the American Psychological Association and the Troland Research Award of the US National Academy of Sciences.”
IRVA 2010 – Consciousness and the Interface Theory of Perception
It is generally assumed that truer perceptions are fitter perceptions, and thus that natural selection has shaped our perceptions to be good estimates of objective reality. I argue that this assumption is false. Instead, simulations based on evolutionary game theory indicate that our perceptions constitute a species-specific user interface that guides behavior in a niche. Just as the icons of a PC’s interface hide the complexity of the computer, so our perceptions usefully hide the complexity of the world, and guide adaptive behavior. Our perceptions are tuned to utility, not to objective reality. I discuss the implications of this result for theories of consciousness and the mind-body problem.