Duality Of Perception
When I was a kid, I loved watching magic. I’d ask my parents to take me to our local costume shop on Sundays so I could browse the magic section in the back of the store. Most of the time, I was shown a few illusions and then I’d see one that I absolutely had to figure out. I’d spend whatever allowance money I'd saved up and buy the trick. The magician behind the counter would take the next fifteen minutes to explain each step. By the time we got home, I was halfway there.
Now as an adult, I still enjoy magic. Magicians like David Blaine, Copperfield, and Houdini are awesome. But, how I understand magic has changed some. What you believe is magic as a kid is actually carefully designed “illusions” pretending to be magic.
Illusions make me think about this idea of “perception duality”. Like when someone says “there are two sides to every story”. It’s true. There may even be more. Each person has his or her own perspective and the story changes relative to that person. In the 2006 movie The Prestige Michael Caine’s character explains how every magic trick has three parts:
1 - The Pledge
2 - The Turn
3 - The Prestige
From the perspective of the audience, it appears to be magic. But from the magician's perspective, it's well-executed deception. No variables change. The magician is dong the same thing, but from one person’s point of view there’s a totally different experience. Of course, magic is designed to make us feel this way, but I often wonder, what other events we experience that evoke such trickery?
Communication for example, is frequently misinterpreted. I can’t count the number of times I hear about emails gone horribly wrong. Emotions can be deceiving. Sometimes we cry when we’re happy, but out of context, you might perceive the person as upset.
As we blaze into a technologically-dominated world, it's increasingly difficult to discern objects like iPads from "magic". Imagine telling someone 100 years ago that you have access to nearly every book ever published in your pocket. We laugh at Siri now, but as artificial intelligence capitalizes on perception duality, the difference between "artificial" and "real" will be indistinguishable.
The next time you see a magic trick, think about the magician. When you check your phone (maybe you're reading this on your phone now) think about the engineers designing the chip, screen, and software. This is the world as I see it, what do you see?