The unaware

Editor’s note 1: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines

 Note 2: info from “A dynamic interplay within the frontoparietal network underlies rhythmic spatial attention” by Ian Fiebelkorn, Mark Pinsk and Sabine Kastner (DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.038) and “Neural mechanisms of sustained attention are rhythmic” by Randolph Helfrich, Ian Fiebelkorn, Sara Szczepanski, Jack Lin, Josef Parvizi, Robert Knight and Sabine Kastner (DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.032)

Setting: Unknown*

The science vessel arrived at a telluric planet that harbored conscious-intelligent-life. The assessment-team gave us an interesting report. The species does not actually register much of the world around it. Their consciousness shifts in and out of focus, so what the individuals think they know about the world is constructed from limited information. Estimates of how often they are actually focused suggest they don’t know much about their world at all.

Their brains oscillate in and out of focus four times every second. In other words, their brains are built to be distractible. They focus in bursts, and between those bursts they have periods of distractibility, when their brain assesses the rest of the environment. They experience their reality as continuous, but it is simply because their brains fill in the gaps for them. The team suspects it might have offered the individuals’ distant ancestors an evolutionary advantage detecting threats.

This may be related to another interesting finding. They have achieved a level of technological development where they are more than able to resolve their social needs. Nevertheless, most of their species live in mental and/or physician suffering, and they are in the process of destroying their planet’s ability to sustain their lives. Most of the individuals are unaware of these processes. It is also likely related to their stagnation in a market-based resource allocation society, rather than progressing into coordination and planning. The end of their world is relatively imminent. It is comically absurd, but it is much sadder than it is humorous.


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