Augi is an augmentation intelligence in the shape of a silver choker. It is worn by Isis, a human. Augi perceives the world through Isis' sensory apparatus by detecting electrical impulses traveling from her sense organs to her brain.

In one story, Augi perceives a number of entities which Isis cannot perceive at all. Augi assumed for some time that Isis could also perceive these apparently obvious entities; not the case. I do not make clear exactly what human sensory modality Augi was using that Isis might possess but not be conscious of having. It is dissatisfying. I vaguely thought it might be blindsight. Blindsight is a poorly understood sense of surroundings or spatial position which is exhibited by persons who are blind because of brain damage to the visual cortex in the brain, but not to the eyes. Persons (and monkeys) with blindsight accomplish things that would seem to require vision, without consciously "seeing" anything they can report.

Our other senses have inputs specific to each: we can smell things we cannot see, hear things we cannot see or smell, and perceive textures by touch which we could not with other senses. What would be the nature of an object or entity perceptible only by blindsight, and not by regular sight?

Maybe it is a faux pas to link up stories. If so, moderators please edit this out. If not, here are Isis and Augi. The last story has the events from this question. I blame @Erin Thursby for getting me excited about it again.

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    $\begingroup$ It is interesting how this blindsight might perceive something that's not there, or be considered as 'spiritual eye' $\endgroup$
    – Vylix
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 3:11
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    $\begingroup$ I'm surprised no one mentioned Blindsight by Peter Watts. An excellent hard-science-fiction novel with similar concepts. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ Re existing novels, my first thoughts went to Night Walk by Bob Shaw (1967) books.google.com/books/about/Night_Walk.html?id=gELY6wOVX28C $\endgroup$
    – Dragonel
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 16:30

5 Answers 5


Blindsight from the parameters you have given, seems less likely to be fooled by visual tricks. Therefore, anything that can camouflage, blind sight can see.

As JDlugosz said in his answer, the advantage of blind sight is that filter, that is, visual processing through the brain, is gone.

The other things that can be seen might be stranger than that--impressions of things that WERE there before or of terrible things that we don't see.

In the blindsight experiments, blind people unconsciously moved around objects without knowing they were there. Take this a step further. Maybe all of us sighted people are actually avoiding objects and beings just outside our conscious perception that are overlaying our reality. We don't consciously know that they are there, but we do avoid them.

You say:

In one story, Augi perceives a number of entities which Isis cannot perceive at all. Augi assumed for some time that Isis could also perceive these apparently obvious entities; not the case.

Therefore, this is an unconscious sense used to perceive, which is either edited out, or not deemed as important to be consciously aware of in our processing centers.

When we tested for blind sight, us sighted folks could see the things that they were avoiding or reaching for. We had the advantage of knowing for sure that those things were there. But the blind insisted that they couldn't see them, despite repeated successes.

This is terrifying.

Because what implies is that there's an unconscious program running in our brains, telling us what reality is, and insisting that we never, ever look at it, because to do so is...what? damaging to our conscious mind?

So it's possible that the whole of humanity has been avoiding things we don't actually believe that we see, and if someone told us about them, we would insist that it's just a coincidence and that they aren't really there.

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    $\begingroup$ I like this answer very much and it is clear to me now the premise could be used to write a story much creepier than the one I wrote. I realized I like the answer because it is almost a story in itself. But I still am not sure of the nature of these entities. For example: can you smack one with a stick? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ Can you smack one with a stick--the answer to that could actually be YES, which is scarier than no. Ever trip over nothing? Maybe strokes are actually the result of contact with one. Or we are actually lab rats--our whole society--with entities experimenting on us a la that episode of Voyager "The Scientific Method." What you do with it and how you answer that is up to you. (Maybe they work like the Silence from Doctor Who...) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ @ErinThursby Scarrier still is that you are wrong. You cannot smack one with a stick. The stick can smack one, itself, but you cannot voluntarily wield the stick in such an endevour, for to do so is to admit that which cannot be admitted. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 0:27
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    $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon You have terrified me. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the description for This book is full of spiders: Warning: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR. You will dismiss this as ridiculous fear-mongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fear-mongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection. the creature stimulates skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure... You can't feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You won't even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 15:45

Blindsight Mechanism

Look at the visual processing pipeline. In general, something that's removed or not tagged for later stages will not be noticed, but could be blindsighted by pathways that tap out of the pipeline at earlier stages.


So how could this apply to objects, rather than low-level features such as edges and lines? My thought is camouflage. The camouflage is successful in terms of the normal visual system not noticing anything. But some artifact might be present, discarded during processing, but noticed as an anomaly by the other pathway.

Human-specific Perception

You state “Augi perceives the world through Isis' sensory apparatus by detecting electrical impulses traveling from her sense organs to her brain.” So it receives fairly raw sense data, and has its own, different, processing pipeline.

An example might be faces. A human will see a face in an abstract arrangement of shapes, and might pick out a specific spot in a random montage because it looks like a smiley. We have special circuits for detecting faces. I saw a show where someone with damage to that spot in the brain looked at artwork where figures were made of mushrooms or vegetables or whatnot, and did not see the figure in the food.

So it would be with an alien, specifically one who doesn’t have a humanoid face. Its attention will not be drawn to the smiley in the mess, and it won’t see a human head in a bowl of soup. But to us it’s blindingly obvious!

  • $\begingroup$ Spotting sniper made easier $\endgroup$
    – Vylix
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 3:10

Depending on the following story, you could go for some genetic engineering “simply“ (actually that would be really advanced stuff) editing out the perception of those entities somewhere late in the perception chain (the pattern of the entities triggering some kind of block).

Maybe those entities have been around for a very long time and anchored this into the genome of all humans. We would then see them, maybe even subconsciously move around them but not know we saw them.

Some people would have a genetic mutation allowing them to see those entities and consequently go to the mental hospital.

  • $\begingroup$ the logical inverse of our built-in face-finding processors. $\endgroup$
    – user25818
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @notstoreboughtdirt faces, edges, movement, things that are unexpected/out of context, context, reading sotp as stop, etc. $\endgroup$
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 22:36


If those entities can only be seen at the exact border of visible light, we wouldn't notice them because they would be barely visible. If they led light of other wavelengths through their body, they would appear to us like a vague shadow in front of something else, the shadow however being so weak we wouldn't see it at all.

The wavelengths each cone in the eye is able to perceive and to what extent can be seen for example at this picture:


Make the creatures be see through for everything but the far edge on one side so that only 0,(a few zeros)1% of light received by us contain information about them.

Depending on how they behave on the rest of the non visible spectrum a (specific) camera would be able to see and photograph them (if you want that for your plot).

Else make them out of something like glass for all wavelengths but even more see through (less visible), then we wouldn't notice them, but your ai could.


I would have to say, in you context of 'percievable but not perceived', is subtle objects. In your story, Isis and Augi have the same sensory input, but process that input with their own methods. The human mind is good at ignoring obvious things (need ref, unintentional blindness ), and filling in what it thinks it probably perceived. Augi, not having these processing shortcuts, would have a 'true sight' version of the sense inputs.

For example, when you reed text and you think you know what you read till you get to the end and realize that 'read' was misspelled. Augi would not make that mistake. :3

There are also examples of automoving image illusions, and an AI would be more accurate at calculating distance of objects and sounds.

Also hard to understand things like QR codes, a machine would understand better than a human. (Humans generally can only process up to 7 things at a time)


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