How It Works

Imagine watching yourself in a dream. What would it be like, to meet your dreaming self? The dream machine allows just that. It uses deep learning algorithms to isolate the brain activity that correlates with consciousness while you are awake. Consciousness itself is not contained in single neuron or neuronal group; it arises from particular kinds of interactions.* It comes from the relationship between neurons, especially those in the thalmus and the cortex. The dream machine learns those relationships.

The dream machine allows you to experience your own dreams as if you were inside a virtual world. You are free to move about; you can see your dream self, doing what your dream self decides to do; you can see what your dream self is seeing and hearing what he is hearing. In fact, you can see more. The brain abhors a perceptual vacuum, so wherever you look, your brain fills in the gaps -- even the parts that your dream self does not see. Imagine it: you dream you are climbing a staircase. You get to the top where you hear a voice say, "The world is elliptical..." and then you jump into a fountain. The "you" here is your dream self. Unless you dream lucidly, your awake self does not choose the actions of your dream self. With the dream machine, your awake self still cannot make those choices. But you can visit your dream self, watch him climb the staircase, pause to examine the steps, and go in a different direction to explore whatever lies at the bottom of the stairs. Your brain fills in those details. You can watch your dream self get tired as he sweats on the steps. You can hear the voice speak, and try to find its source. The dream world is yours to move in, as freely as you move in the real world. And when the dream is over, you will remember everything as if it had happened to you while awake.

You cannot interfere, though. You are a ghost in the dream world, and so you cannot help your dream self up the stairs; cannot drink from the fountain or be seen by anyone you encounter. You are a spectator in a virtual world that cannot sense your presence.

When the dream machine was developed, researchers found that they could effectively impose the patterns of neuronal activity that characterize wakeful consciousness onto the brain during REM sleep. The breakthrough came when they observed that this essentially created two minds in the patient; that of the dream self, and that of the awake self. Consciousness cannot be split. Even patients with a severed corpus callosum, for whom the left and right halves of the brain cannot communicate, do not experience two consciousnesses. One will always dominate the other. What the researchers saw in early tests was that the wakeful consciousness always dominated** the dream consciousness, meaning that the patient would experience the dreams as his awake self even while his dream self went about his own experience of the dream, inaccessible to the awake self as someone else's thoughts. This observation provided the basis for the dream machine's current use in treatment today, making it an invaluable tool in the treatment of psychological disorders, psychoanalytic dream analysis, as well as many other therapeutic treatment modalities.

* Doesn't this make sense? Wisdom is relational. Knowledge allows a man to contruct a light bulb or a rifle; but wisdom exists in the between we create together, and it is dynamic. This is why the wise man who sits on the mountain, the guru, is no longer valued. The new century is about speed and dynamic functions, changing relationships between changing parts, and infinity moving at infinite speed... --Chen, editor

** almost.

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