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One of the most important functions of the animal brain is to filter out unwanted information and perceive the relevant materials. This is essential so the animals may react properly to environmental situations, such as predators or prey hiding behind bushes. Because that ability is so important all animal brains have been selected to have that ability. Human brains have expanded that into other realms such as abstractions carried out by the use of language. Yesterday’s post – Why does the media promote public blindness? – was considered as an advanced form of this problem. In that case the answer to the question was to make money out of information in newspapers because — What sells news is bad news!

In direct contradiction to that kind of information is our responsibility to ourselves, as living human beings, to filter the sense out from the vast supply of random noise, foolishness, nonsense and intentional obfuscation that is presented to us by the media.

The MIT Technology Review just published an article related to this problem, where they showed a new algorithm designed to remove unwanted foreground noise from background information. This is relevant because the same techniques might be developed for other kinds of information, such as the kind of intentionally spun information presented in the news media. That is, it might be possible to create an algorithm that can compare several news sources with known bias, spot biased words from each of them, and then reveal the underlying information. Below is an example of the technique applied to a visual medium:

Tigers made visible by removing noise.

An unwanted nearby chain link fence is removed from a desired background image using stereo photographs.

If we were standing where the two stereo photographs were taken to make the bottom picture presented above, our brain could automatically filter out the chain-link fence, and our mind’s binocular eye information would perceive the two tigers seen in the bottom image relaxing in the forest. Some of my previous posts on seeing past obscuring things into the unknowns include: What are the characteristics of knowable unknowns? Intentional blindness to unknown unknowns. Seeking the unknown unknowns behind walls.Defeating the camouflage of non-moving animals. — and below — Camouflage in the forest.

An impala hidden in a forest.

Find the animal in the picture.

Camouflage removed from in front of an impala which reveals it clearly.

Some of the visual noise is removed from in front of an impala which reveals it clearly.

I created the second photo image by cloning thin weeds away from in front of the impala. If I had had a second photograph taken two inches to either side of the existing one, the existing grey foreground branches would have been easily removed with cloning. With my current digital camera I can take a burst of photos, and using this feature I could move to the side while depressing the trigger button to take several photos. Then in my computer at home I could copy two photos into a single one and have them side by side in one frame. Once in one frame it would be easy to clone out the foreground material from in front of the impala. Because of the different camera position there would be a slight off-set on the impala, but that may be compensated for by aligning the clone copy area on its nose. Whatever material is seen using that method is from an original image, but the picture above was cloned from similar available parts of the impala, and thus the resulting image is partly a made-up projection of my mind.

This same technique is similar to that used to blink back and forth between star photos taken a few days apart as the operator watches for blinking objects. That is how the planet Pluto was originally discovered. The method can also be used on text material to watch for changes of text.

Removing the obvious extraneous foreground material may sometimes reveal important background material.