I have always believed psychedelic visions from ayahuasca etc. are not supernatural. Google just proved it.
Computer image recognition has transformed out of all recognition in the last few years thanks to deep neural networks and massive sets of training data.
We train an artificial neural network by showing it millions of training examples and gradually adjusting the network parameters until it gives the classifications we want. The network typically consists of 10-30 stacked layers of artificial neurons. Each image is fed into the input layer, which then talks to the next layer, until eventually the “output” layer is reached. The network’s “answer”
Instead of exactly prescribing which feature we want the network to amplify, we can also let the network make that decision. In this case we simply feed the network an arbitrary image or photo and let the network analyze the picture. We then pick a layer and ask the network to enhance whatever it detected. Each layer of the network deals with features at a different level of abstraction, so the complexity of features we generate depends on which layer we choose to enhance.
One way to visualize what goes on is to turn the network upside down and ask it to enhance an input image in such a way as to elicit a particular interpretation. Say you want to know what sort of image would result in “Banana.” Start with an image full of random noise, then gradually tweak the image towards what the neural net considers a banana
The results are intriguing—even a relatively simple neural network can be used to over-interpret an image, just like as children we enjoyed watching clouds and interpreting the random shapes. This network was trained mostly on images of animals, so naturally it tends to interpret shapes as animals
All very trippy, I think you’ll agree. I consider this strong circumstantial evidence against all the supernatural woo associated with ayahuasca etc. If computers hallucinate as awesomely as this. it suggests the human brain doesn’t need any external help generating the self-transforming machine elves and other crazy visions often attributed to aliens or inner worlds.