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    Making Something Out of Nothing (Or at Least Very Little)

    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Here's an ink-blot-styled test for ya. What do you make out of this collection of dots?

    Probably not much. However, if the dots were to be animated in a certain way, it'd take you a fraction of a second to recognize it as a walking person. (Check out this "walking dots" demonstration to see the dots in motion.) It's not something you have to consciously think about to recognize, your brain does this all subconsciously and automatically for you. I've seen these demonstrations before, but this is the first "walking dots" demonstration I've seen that allows you to play with different variables -- including gender, weight, tenseness/looseness, and mood -- to see how they effect the walking dots' stagger. The algorithm is wonderful but does seem to break down when you move too many variables to extremes. For example, I tried a happy, nervous, heavy male and the dots seemed to just freak out on me.

    All of this reminds me of a great book I read called Visual Intelligence by Donald Hoffman.

    This book shows us how our minds work on our behalf to construct images, and in many cases the image presented to "us" by our visual cortex (and other brain "organs") is as much a guess as it is the real or correct representation. It's a very illuminating book and it's full of illustrations. If you think what "you" see is the same as what your eyes do, then read this book, because it's certainly not true.

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