Philosopher Andy Clark argues that prediction is central to understanding how human beings perceive the world. We do, he says, a lot more predicting than we realize.
“Prediction is, of course, a slippery beast. It appears, even within these pages, in many subtly (and not-so-subtly) different forms. Prediction, in its most familiar incarnation, is something that a person engages in, with a view to anticipating the shape of future events. Such predictions are informed, conscious guesses, usually made well in advance, generated by forward-looking agents in the service of their plans and projects. But that kind of prediction, that kind of conscious guessing, is not the kind that lies at the heart of the story … Brains like ours, this picture suggests, are predictive engines, constantly trying to guess at the structure and shape of the incoming sensory array. Such brains are incessantly pro-active, restlessly seeking to generate the sensory data for themselves using the incoming signal (in a surprising inversion of much traditional wisdom) mostly as a means of checking and correcting their best top-down guessing.”