dreaming code

George said it would happen. Last week I woke up one morning and realised I’d been dreaming code. I can’t say whether I was dreaming in code, or dreaming about code. Hard to tell the difference. I’m not very good at remembering what happens in my dreams – other people seem to be quite good at it though. Either way, it was a mixture of C++ and HTML. A mixture of simulation model and website I guess.

This reminded me of the title of a book that inspired a hollywood movie. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is apparently quite different from the movie Blade Runner, but I haven’t time for that right now so had to settle with watching the director’s cut. No time for post-modernism here (apparently the movie is, like, totally post-modern. I’ll leave Post-Normal Science to another blog) I’ll concentrate on some musings arising from my late night veiwing.

What’s the difference between a dream and a memory?” Dreams can feel immensly real, more real than memories I’d argue. They can feel so real you wake up in a cold sweat. Once you’re awake you realise it’s a dream and remember that bad dreams can happen sometimes and have happened before (but what about if you’re still asleep eh? That film Existenz). So you disregard the dream, relying on your memory that ‘it’s only a dream’. But if the dream can feel more real, why isn’t it trusted as much as the memory? Because we were unconscious when we had the dream? It wasn’t ‘real’?

So how ‘real’ are memories? What’s the relationship between the memory when it happened to the memory when it’s remembered? How has it changed? It can’t be exactly the same memory surely? I’m sure there’s a ton of literature out there on the relationship of dreams, reality, memory but I don’t know anything about that.

What I’m thinking about is the reliability of memories. We use memories to make decisions everyday. We use our memories of the past to make decisions now about the future. For someone trying to understand and simulate the decision-making process, this is quite an interesting question. Do we have some built-in understanding that sits with a memory giving us an idea about how ‘good’ (accurate) it is? If it feels vague, less vivid, if it feels less real, (if it feels less ‘real’ like a dream feels ‘real’) then this it’s not as reliable? Or is it about repetition – if we drive the same route to work everyday we remember it better than one we don’t drive often (but what about the details of that daily journey?).

Anyway, I think that’s all a little too detailed for me. It’s something interesting to think about and seemingly a popular topic for movie-makers. This guy Michel Gondry seems quite interested. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was good – memories are more than just in your head, they’re part of you, they and the experiences that produced them make you who you are and that can’t be ignored. He’s got a new one out soon – The Science of Sleep. Looks quite fun.

I doubt it will help answer any of my questions though. I’m not going to be able to represent memories as a part of the decision-making process in my simulation model. I reckon it would be pretty ambitious for anyone to try that for a while. I’ll stick with some more general observations and mechanisms and keep dreaming code for a while longer.

[PS BAWA 1 – 3 Warmley Saints. Millington opened his scoring account in the first pre-season friendly today. A glorious 1 yard tap in, steaming in from central midfield, after the ‘keeper fumbled.]

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