Posts tagged "subconscious"
[T]hough we don’t realize it, we are making many decisions each second. Should I spit out my mouthful of food because I detect a strange odor? How shall I adjust my muscles so that I remain standing, and don’t tip over? What is the meaning of the words that other person is uttering? And what kind of person is she, anyway? These decisions seem effortless—but that is only because the effort they demand is expended in parts of the brain that function outside awareness. Take speech. When you read the sentence “The cooking teacher said the children made good snacks,” most people automatically understand a certain meaning for the word “made.” But if you read, “The cannibal said the children made good snacks,” you automatically interpret the word “made” in a more alarming sense. The difficulty in making sense of even simple speech is well-appreciated by computer scientists who struggle to create machines that respond to natural language. Their frustration is illustrated by an apocryphal story of the early computer that was given the task of translating the homily “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” to Russian and then back to English. According to legend, it came out: “The vodka is strong but the meat is rotten.” Luckily, our unconscious does a far better job, and handles language, sense perception, and a myriad of other tasks, leaving our deliberative conscious mind time to focus on more important things like complaining to the person who programmed the translation software.
(from Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow)