Pattern Recognition

You know how when you buy a new car, even one you weren’t previously familiar with, you suddenly see them every where you go?  I wonder if there’s a term for that.  Last week Chrissy and I were on the highway and I noticed a truck in the next lane equipped to drive on railroad tracks.  I’ve seen them before, but not in a very long time.  Since then I’ve seen 3 such trucks.

I understand the human brain is an amazing pattern recognition machine, even better than current computers, but I wonder what triggers that subconscious search for things we really don’t care about.

When Steve Fossett went missing I spent a few hours on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk looking for planes in the desert.  It was mind-numbing and I didn’t find anything noteworthy, but it was sort of interesting to be involved in the search.

I’ve also spent a little bit of time on Galaxy Zoo trying to classify galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  That’s surprisingly hard.

Maybe I’m wrong about not caring about these things.  On some level we’re just wired for pattern searching.   I say I don’t care how many other people are driving Saturns, yet I’ll stay up in the middle of the night searching for gray, plane-shaped specks in the sand.

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