This is from "Artificial Intelligence For Dummies".

Theoretically, avoiding mistruths of bias is always possible. In reality, however, all humans have biases of various types, and those biases will always result in mistruths that skew datasets. Just getting someone to actually look and then see something — to have it register in the person’s brain — is a difficult task. Humans rely on filters to avoid information overload, and these filters are also a source of bias because they prevent people from actually seeing things.

I wonder which of the following the 'see' means in the above context?

1a. to perceive by the eye

2d. to perceive the meaning or importance of : UNDERSTAND


I think 2d is most likey. Am I right?

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    Hi @ellse, I answered your question below. However, I'd make two recommendations in general: 1) It's great that you cited the text's source, but it's also a good idea to cite the definitions' source. Knowing whether they come from a dictionary that is American or British (or something else), old or new, etc. can be useful. 2) It's a good idea to state not only which option you think is correct but also why. That can also help people to provide more useful answers. Thanks! Apr 22, 2023 at 4:04
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    @MarcInManhattan I understand. Next time, I'll do so. Thank you very much.
    – user157844
    Apr 22, 2023 at 4:16
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    It's definition #2, but actually only up to perceive. There's no need to take it all the way to understand - the text explicitly makes that point with to have it register in the person’s brain (just getting someone to consciously register something can be difficult, without even considering the possibility of getting them to understand it). Apr 22, 2023 at 13:11
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    I’m voting to close this question because I think the cited text already makes the intended meaning crystal clear - to actually look and then see something — to have it REGISTER in the person’s brain. Apr 22, 2023 at 13:14

3 Answers 3


Yes, definition 2d makes sense here. Keep in mind that that definition could be considered a figurative extension of definition 1a, so they are not really entirely distinct.

Also, note that the author earlier mentions "look", and both of those words have both literal and figurative meanings that are very similar. (For example, one can "look" at an issue.) Therefore, there is a strong analogy between literal "looking" and "seeing" and figurative "looking" and "seeing".

In fact, the difference between "literal" and "figurative" is often subtle, and some dictionaries will include figurative meanings (does that make them literal, then?) while others won't. I therefore wouldn't worry about the difference too much; you seem to understand what the author intended, and that's what is important.

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    In fact, the writer explains what they mean by see - 'have it register in a person's brain'. Often we can physically 'see' something without being conscious of it. An inexperienced photographer may take a photo without realising that their own shadow is in the foreground; our brains can 'filter out' that part of the image, but the camera can't. Apr 22, 2023 at 8:20
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    See also the Invisible Gorilla experiment where 50% of people looked at something without (consciously) seeing it.
    – TripeHound
    Apr 22, 2023 at 10:04

I understand the meaning to be 1a. The contrast is between perceiving (visually, with the eyes directly registering information with the brain) something and forming an opinion about how something is based on a glace combined with expectations and biases.

The assertion is that is difficult to get people to perceive things with their eyes. Normally we filter out much of the visual impression based on expectations and experience.

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    I disagree. In other contexts you might distinguish see from understand in this way. But in the specific cited context, the "progression" is explicitly referenced as going from look (image forms on retina) to see (image goes from retina to brain) - which is then explicitly moved on even further to brain registers reception of image. And we still haven't necessarily reached understanding - just awareness that there's something that might need to be thought about. Apr 22, 2023 at 13:21
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    I understand your interpretation, but I continue to feel that the intention of the author is that in day to day life we don't look and we don't see things. That is this is a philosophical point. There's a David Hockney quote about this - How he never learned to look, he never learned to see until he went to art school. Previously he drew what he thought he had seen. Maybe I'll try to find it. What I am sure of is that the sense of "see" here is not mundane. The claim is radical: that most people don't see anything! It doesn't mean that they are blind, more that they don't look.
    – James K
    Apr 22, 2023 at 13:29
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    Actually, I've just realized that my interpretation is probably influenced by the fact that the word see is highlighted in the OP - but I've no idea whether the original used italics there! Apr 22, 2023 at 13:39
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    Here's a link to the source. The word see doesn't use any different typefaces in the cited paragraph - but talkies is italicized three paragraphs earlier, so I assume the text faithfully reproduces things like that throughout. In light of that I'm gonna cancel my downvote (but I still think my first comment makes a valid point, so hopefully that can stand). Apr 22, 2023 at 13:47

yea 2D. But you have to think about how the author is using two things that are or ideally, should be the same.

  1. Looking at something (object of focus "something")
  2. seeing something (object of focus is "something")

So the author is suggesting the power of biased and all things associated with creating this gap between these to similar actions..

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