Re: Artificial Environment Compute Power

Joe E. Dees (
Fri, 7 Aug 1998 18:36:56 -0500

From:           	"Scott Badger" <>
To:             	<>
Subject:        	Re: Artificial Environment Compute Power
Date sent:      	Fri, 7 Aug 1998 17:48:24 -0500
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> Joe E. Dees <> wrote:
> Dreaming is a way for the brain to function more efficiently by
> sifting the day's stimuli for novel or useful memories, comparing/
> contrasting them with previously filed data, and shifting those
> selected for retention into longer-term storage (and dumping the
> rest) while it is disconnected (offline) from the cerebral load
> imposed by the exigencies of interaction with the perception-action
> manifold. If we had to process our perceptions and react to them at
> the same time we selected for relevance and stored the selections,
> the cognitive complexity requirements of such massive multitasking
> would entail such massive brains that we would probably have to
> carry them around in wheelbarrows. Joe
> I've heard this explanation before and it never satisfies me. What does
> this alleged daily sifting process have to do with the complex stories that
> evolve, and the fact that dreams are often recurring? Dreams often have
> nothing to do whatever with the days eevents. I've even had dreams that
> were purely aural; rich symphonic music that I feel certain I am
> spontaneously composing. This can easily happen on a day when I've heard no
> music at all so what's being "sifted" here?

We impose narrative order on the succession of images. Recurring dreams probably have to do with the pre-existing substrate memories being compared with the day's events. This substrate changes, as experiences accumulate, but slowly. As for the music, Ive heard it, too; and most of the time I'm not strictly asleep, but in the borderline hypnogogic state. I'm unsure of its cause, but it does serve to remind that there is more to both perception and memory than image.
> As for the lucid dreaming comment; I read a fascinating report about an
> individual who was extraordinaryly good at it. He was instructed to wait
> until he entered a lucid dreaming state, and then to communicate that fact
> to the waking world by tapping out his name in code with his finger and was
> able to do it. Imagine having conscious control of your dreams. You could
> do anything, be anyone, go anywhere. Sound like fun? They have devices
> that are designed to induce lucid dreams for those who want to train
> themselves. I don't know whether they actually work or not.
> SB