“Illusion” implies that our system is fooled, but as far as useful information goes, the checkerboard interpretation is probably better. Try as they might, mathematicians can’t make the computers see the checkerboard. Rather than a demonstration of how easily fooled we are, optical illusions like this one are examples of the brain’s mysterious and irreplicable abilities. It interprets its environment with a sophistication that exceeds our ability to measure and reconstruct physical phenomena. The usual framing has it wrong: Despite A and B having the same SSR, humans are still able to see the checkerboard.
First of all, it's gratifying to at last find someone else that agrees with me. Two other people actually, both the author of the book and the reviewer.
But, anyway, this underscores the fact that in certain respects computers, at least if merely using visual information, cannot see as well as we do. The fact that computers cannot see the checkerboard implies that they cannot see their environment very well at all. This is why autonomous cars can't just rely on cameras but require other sensing methods such as LIDAR. It also partially explains why fully autonomous cars might still be decades away. Back in 2014 I predicted 2060, which at that time was vastly later than all the predictions of the various pundits. Almost to the man they thought that fully autonomous cars would be widespread within 5-20 years.
So, despite using highly sophisticated algorithms, computers still cannot see as well as we do. An interesting question is why can't they? Why can't they see the checkerboard? If it is merely the brain that enables us to see, then whatever physical processes are involved, they surely should be able to be matched by suitably sophisticated algorithms. To me their failure in this regard suggests that something else is required, that consciousness in and of itself is playing a pivotal role that is enabling us to see proficiently.