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machine running amok.
This tells us what dreams are, but it does not tell us why we
should have them. Why should the subreality machine activate
Chapter 8: The Function of the Subreality Machine 139

periodically in the night without an apparent purpose? Why
isn™t it always shut-off during our sleep? The Inner Light
Theory does not directly answer this question. However, the
mental architecture described in the previous chapters does
allow us to speculate on possible reasons.
To start, we will assume that nature has some reason for
disconnecting the senses from the brain at night. Perhaps this
is nothing more than preventing us from stumbling around in
the darkness and injuring ourselves. The question then becomes,
why does the subreality machine periodically activate when the
sensory input is removed?
When phrased in this way, any good electrical engineer will
have an immediate answer to what is going on. Manmade
signal processing systems, such as those based on electronics
and computers, often employ circuits to automatically adjust
their sensitivity. As an example of this, consider the operation
of a handheld video camera. When used to record a loud party
in bright sunlight, the sound and light levels are large enough
that the device can easily operate. The camera detects this and
automatically reduces the sensitivity of its audio and video
circuits to avoid over-driving the recording.
But now suppose that you walk into a dim room where the
people are quietly talking. The camera can no longer detect the
light and sound because they are below the current sensitivity
level. Consequently, the recording will be nearly black and
silent. However, the camera reacts to this situation by gradually
increasing the sensitivity of its video and audio circuits. For
instance, the camera may slowly become ten times more
sensitive to light and sound over the period of a few seconds.
As soon as the camera is sensitive enough to operate properly
under these low-light low-sound conditions, the sensitivity stops
changing and a usable recording can be made. Of course, when
you walk outside the reverse process occurs; the sensitivity of
the camera will gradually decrease over the first few seconds
until it is appropriate for the bright and loud conditions. In
short, the sensitivity of the device automatically adjusts itself to
The Inner Light Theory of Consciousness
140

match the level of the input signals, and requires a few seconds
to react to changing conditions.
This is how the automatic adjustment is suppose to work,
but engineers know that many things can go wrong. For
instance, during the design of the video camera an engineer had
to balance the interaction of many different parameters. This
includes the maximum and minimum sensitivities, how fast the
camera adapts to new input levels, and the characteristics of the
audio and video signals themselves.
Suppose that during the initial product design these
parameters were not set properly, such as the maximum
sensitivity being too high or the adaption being too quick. What
would happen? When the input signals are abruptly reduced,
the sensitivity of the camera will increase as expected.
However, the sensitivity will overshoot and become too great,
causing the recording to be a jumble of distortion and highly
amplified noise. After a second or so, the camera will realize
that the sensitivity is far too high, and try to correct the situation
by drastically reducing it. But just as before, it overreacts, and
reduces the sensitivity to a value that is far too low. This makes
the recording black and completely silent. After a short time,
the camera will detect this new situation and try to correct it by
greatly increasing the sensitivity, starting the whole cycle over
again. In the end, the recording will show brief segments of
noise and distortion, separated by sections that are black and
silent.
The comparison here is obvious. Dreams are an activation
of the subreality machine when the input signals are taken
away, with each episode occurring for about 5-10 minutes at
periodic intervals of 60-90 minutes. To an electrical engineer,
this sounds like oscillation of a sensitivity adjustment circuit.

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