Offloading Your Memories to the Web


This is your brain on chips.

I have long joked with my friends that it is a very good thing that Google came along just as my memory capacities have begun decaying. Now Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow and her colleagues report that it's no joke. In their new study the researchers find that using search engines is affecting the way people remember information. The actual experiments involve just a few subjects, but the results ring true for me. As the New York Times reports:

The scientists, led by  Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia, wondered whether  people were more likely to remember information that could be easily retrieved from a computer, just as students are more likely to recall facts they believe will be on a test.

Dr. Sparrow and her collaborators, Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard and Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, staged four different memory experiments. In one, participants typed 40 bits of trivia — for example, "an ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain" — into a computer. Half of the subjects believed the information would be saved in the computer; the other half believed the items they typed would be erased.

The subjects were significantly more likely to remember information if they thought they would not be able to find it later. "Participants did not make the effort to remember when they thought they could later look up the trivia statement they had read," the authors write.

A second experiment was aimed at determining whether computer accessibility affects precisely what we remember. "If asked the question whether there are any countries with only one color in their flag, for example," the researchers wrote, "do we think about flags — or immediately think to go online to find out?"

In this case, participants were asked to remember both the trivia statement itself and which of five computer folders it was saved in. The researchers were surprised to find that people seemed better able to recall the folder.

Now I love the Web as much as the next guy, but concerns about offloading memories into other media are at least as old as Socrates' complaint that writing would produce forgetfulness. With some irony, Plato wrote down in The Phaedrus dialogue Socrates' reply of the King of Egypt to the inventor of writing:

"…it will introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in writing, which is external and depends on signs that belong to others, instead of trying to remember from the inside, completely on their own. You have not discovered a potion for remembering, but for reminding; you provide your students with the appearance of wisdom, not with its reality. Your invention will enable them to hear many things without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing. And they will be difficult to get along with, since they will merely appear to be wise instead of really being so."

So much for Socrates. I look forward to the real solution to the problem of fading and fallible organic memory which is the future installation in our brains of a wireless chip connected to the digitized contents of the Web (including the Library of Congress). As an emergency backup, our memories could perhaps also be uploaded into some upgraded future equivalent of a flash drive.

NEXT: Sports vs. Social Justice

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  1. Doesn’t surprise me at all. In cultures that don’t have writing, you will find truly astonishing feats of memory (bards and poets remembering hours and hours and hours of poems and songs).

    Your brain isn’t dumb. Why should it retain something that it knows it doesn’t need to retain? Its got other things to do.

    1. Your brain isn’t dumb.

      Correct. Your brain, on the other hand….

    2. How do you know they remembered it correctly?
      Dilbert: studies show that made up numbers are as useful as accurate numbers in 87% of the cases.

      1. “How do you know they remembered it correctly?”

        By rhythm, rhyme, and other tricks of construction, which were early, human-friendly forms of “error detection and correction.” No such schemes are ever foolproof, of course, but clever construction of an epic poem or song could allow people generations removed from the creation of the original work to keep stanzas in proper order, detect and correct memory errors in particular words, etc.

        Modern-day people can and do use the same methods (often unconsciously) to remember the lyrics to long pop songs (e.g., American Pie, Taxi, The Devil Went Down to Georgia — even favorites of mine like Buffett’s “The Wino and I Know” and Commander Cody’s “Hot Rod Lincoln”). On the other hand, you have to use these methods in order for them to help. When the error correction and detection fails, or is not used at all, the mistakes that can ensue from misheard (or misremembered) song lyrics can be hilarious.

    3. Another academic study to conclude the obvious.

  2. sure is second in here.

    1. This universe just seems like a ‘B’, you know?

  3. It’d be cool to just offload stuff on a flash drive and save it for when I need it.

    1. Welcome to the dollhouse

      1. It’s been canceled, dude.

        1. Supposedly its problem in season 1 was too many Monster of the Week episodes, but I prefer those.

          Well, I like plot episodes too, I just like them judiciously interspersed amongst MoW episodes. Or B plots within MoW episodes.

          1. Its problem was that it was a crappy show, imho.

            1. It’s problem was that, as much as I love Eliza Dushku, she is not the first choice to play multiple different personalities.

              Pretty much only varying degrees of badass or rebellious girl.

              1. Every member of the supporting cast was more interesting that the lead. If they killed Dushku in the first episode, the series may have survived.

                1. For season 2, I would tell people turned off by season 1, “it’s got 40% less Dushku.” She’s a might easy on the eyes, but Olivier she ain’t.

            2. To my mind the problems were all about the underlying concept. The later episodes were better because you got away from the silly fantasy-islandgirl aspects of the plot and ended up with something similar to Angel’s later seasons where you have some engaging characters trying to fight some shadowy “evil.” Almost saved the show, but not quite.

              1. Well if they killed off the “pretty girl” and focused on the people that could actually act, there may have been fewer fantasy island clone episodes.

                1. Yeah, but the motivations were still based on providing the fantasy island experience to the rich…that tainted everything.

                  1. I have dim memories that Fox told Whedon to spice up the show.

  4. Reminds me of Stross’ ‘Accelerando’ where the main character, after his glasses that provide overlays, internet connections and memory augmentation, are stolen. He wanders around in a daze, vaguely know he has an appointment and a hotel room but not knowing where they are.

    1. CoyoteBlue: Just want to go on record as saying I really enjoyed Accelerando.

  5. So much for Socrates. .

    So Socrates was a Luddite. Big deal. At least he got the Euthyphro question right.

    I wonder how Kurzwiel’s prediction (i.e. that in 2025 there be cheap nueral simulations) is holding up.

    1. Socrates was right about the writing thing too, in a way. The vast bulk of classical Greek literature was written down and now is lost forever.

      1. I thought you were being sarcastic at first. Without writing, what’s the chance we would have access today, in 2010, to so many of the plays of Sophocoles, Aeschylus, and Euripides? Oral tradition can only retain and transmit so much.

    2. Kurzwiel is over-hyped tech porn for narcissistic baby-boomers seeking a piece of immortality without the bother of having children.

      1. Ummmm…attaining actual immortality via the singularity would be a whole lot fucking better than attaining “immortality” through children.

        Whether you’re a boomer or not.

  6. One question I have is how we go about defining intelligence if and when the chip Bailey describes actually exists.

    Most of what we perceive as “intelligence” is actually the ability to quickly recall the appropriate information to deploy in a particular situation.

    Even most “problem-solving” skills can be mimicked by memory, if memory becomes strong enough. Because most “problems” you face have been faced by other people before, and if the results of their efforts are recorded your supermemory can access it. There’s no need to learn how to “solve” algebra problems, for example, when you can instantly recall the entire algebra textbook and just follow the instructions therein.

    1. You can currently access the contents of an algebra textbook online now with zero effort. That doesn’t mean you can understand it. Memory and intelligence–in terms of comprehension–are not one and the same. While access to vast quantities of information would help, they can’t make you smarter; they can just make you able to utilize your intelligence more easily.

      1. Right. So then it becomes a matter of how quickly you can retrieve the information and use it.

        If you asked me an algebra question and then watched me Google a textbook and figure out how to answer the problem, you’d think, “This guy has to look up how to do algebra.” But what if the chip that gave me access to the textbook was in my mind and not in a laptop?

        Look at it this way: With all of your math and English textbooks in your mind, and with either no time limit for the test or with truly rapid indexed search capabilities, would you get a perfect score on the SAT? I think you probably would. And right now when we hear that someone got a perfect score on the SAT, we think, “Wow, that’s a smart dude.”

        1. Nope. Do you have a floating point processor in your brain? Without that (and I’m not saying we couldn’t have that too), you won’t be doing algebra any faster, whether you look up the equation in a book or in your wetwired memory.

          My physics teacher used to allow us to bring a 3×5 card to exams with all the equations you could cram onto that card as help (I used a laser printer to put everything under the sun onto it with the smallest font I could read). Let me tell you that people who were morons were not helped by having that card; that’s why he allowed it. Access to information is only one part of comprehension, and it is not the most important part by far.

          1. Yep. I have a class taking a diff eq test right now. They are allowed a whole sheet of paper with notes. It doesn’t seem to be helping. Neither are their $200 calculators.

            1. I had a prof (Reactor Physics) whose tests were open book/open note/open his answer set to every previous version of the test he had ever given.

              We each claimed 3 desks before the test to have our materials spread out.

              Tests were still hard. And basically there was no time limit for them.

          2. My e-mag teacher used to let us bring whatever books we wanted and essentially let us work on the test as long was we wanted. It’s more work to make (and grade) a test like that but it’s much more how the real world works. Access to information is definitely not the same as problem solving.

          3. But if you had truly PERFECT memory (and we were talking about terabytes of info) then you could perfectly memorize a schema to use to access the information in the rest of your memory.

            What if instead of having a little card you could have remembered everything that professor said in class, and everything written in every physics textbook, and had a memorized schema for retrieving the relevant parts of those for any particular question?

            1. Still not going to help, dude. You just described a computer as we understand them today, and they’ve dumber than dirt.

              1. No, you wouldn’t have a computer. You’d have a computer plus a human intelligence.

                I’m not saying the memory does all the work. I’m saying that it would make it much more difficult to differentiate a smart human from an average one.

                Because a human being of average intelligence but with perfect and nearly unlimited access to data from his memory would perform much differently on our current tests from a human being of average intelligence with unaided memory.

                1. I think I get what you are saying and I tend to agree. I think people are getting hung up on “memory” as only meaning that you can write down the equation – but not solve it.
                  But memory is part of the process of knowing how to solve – I recognize (memorise) the quadratic equation and when I solve the quadratic equation – what am I doing? I basically have memorized how to use it, how to apply it, how to stick numbers into it, what it is good for, and what it is irrelevant too.
                  You memorise numbers, you learn (and how exactly is that different from memorising?)the concept of addition, and you can apply it to all numbers (infinity plus 1).

                  1. Episodic memory, procedural memory, and working memory are conceptually distinct from semantic memory (facts). Fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence are also distinct. Without making these distinctions clear, people talk past each other when discussing this topic. It is, actually, a major challenge of cognitive science to properly define terms so that people know what you are talking about.

                    1. Well put.

            2. The primary part of problem solving is recognizing “similar to”. But you almost never actually see the same problem twice. Having a library of “similar to” problems has value, but you still need to intelligence to pick the right “similar to” problem as a baseline and then figure out how to deal with the differences.

              1. This is an excellent point, kinnath. Recognizing “similar to” depends upon the categories you can abstract from real-world input, and also the ease with which you can synthesize new, “shades of grey” categories — or completely new categories altogether — when faced with gaps between those you already have and the input you get from the world in any particular case. Part of abstraction (and intelligence) is knowing what to leave out of your categories — deciding what “doesn’t matter” as well as what does. To be successful, you may need to make different decisions about relevance in different circumstances or at different times. That mental adaptability is also a key component of intelligence, imho.

            3. A lot of advanced physics and math requires an intuitive grasp of the concepts. Knowing what assumptions to make and what data to discard takes a certain amount of creativity. Even with our most powerful computers most science couldn’t be done without creative programming. Some things, like protein folding, are so complex that blunt force computational power isn’t enough to make predictions or explain observed phenomenon.

              You’d need a universe sized computer to explain the universe without intuition and creativity.

              1. You’d need a universe sized computer to explain the universe without intuition and creativity.

                You wouldn’t need on that big. If you had a universe-sized computer, you could predict the next state of the universe, though. Some scientist (look him up) believes the universe IS a computer, constantly calculating its next state.

              2. Gravity seems to take up a lot of space, but gravity can be expressed in an equation of a few bytes in length.

                1. And Fluffy jumps the shark.

                  1. I’m just giving capitol l a hard time.

                    But still, the entire reason we know anything at all about anything is because knowledge of phenomena can be reduced to expressions that are briefer than the phenomena themselves.

                    It takes me less space to remember a baseball game than it takes to play one.

                2. Gravity seems to take up a lot of space, but gravity can be expressed in an equation of a few bytes in length.

                  n-body problem

          4. My physics teacher used to allow us to bring a 3×5 card to exams with all the equations you could cram onto that card…

            My college calculus professor made us memorize the equations. I was up to 7 pages by the end of the year. It was less difficult than you might think.

            Now twenty years later, I don’t remember any of them. I just look them up if needed.

    2. When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different, because I have understanding.

      1. Wow.

        I have been watching that movie for 25 years and ONLY JUST NOW got the profundity of that quote.

        Too bad I didn’t have a perfect memory with the text of the screenplay. Might have saved me some time.

        1. What movie? I copied/pasted the quote into Google and the only reference was this discussion.

          1. You must have mispasted or something because that’s from Time Bandits and I can Google it without a problem.

          2. You screwed up. The first search result is IMDB to the movie in question.

          3. I didn’t put the quote in quotes. When I forge my own search engine empire I’m going to rig it so that exact matches of long word sequences are given higher priority in the results.

            1. I didn’t either

    3. Even most “problem-solving” skills can be mimicked by memory,…

      I would say this statement is flat-out wrong. Infinite memory will not help you deal with the random nature of “future” problems.

      1. Right, but how do you test it?

        Say you decided to test my problem-solving skills by handing me, I don’t know, a broken air conditioner, and you assigned me the task of figuring out what was broken.

        A person (other than an electrician or an HVAC guy) who could pick up a broken air conditioner and figure out what was wrong with it, starting from scratch, would appear to be a pretty damn smart guy and a hell of a problem-solver.

        But if I had infinite memory, all I’d have to do is flip through my mental rolodex for a manual, and for records of similar tests.

        1. My point is that there is a difference between knowledge and understanding.

          Knowledge is easy to test but understanding is hard to test (which is one of the primary problems with schools these days).

          1. Well, then we kind of agree.

            Because the “chip” can definitely give you knowledge.

            And if the difference between knowledge and understanding is elusive enough that it’s hard to test, then the “chip” would in fact make it hard to distinguish between a highly intelligent person and an average one.

            1. I didn’t say the difference was elusive. I said understanding is difficult to test.

          2. This point was made entertaining and unforgettable in the Prisoner episode, “The General.”

  7. I believe it was Einstein who said–and I agree wholeheartedly–“I never remember anything I can look up in a book.”

    1. Yes it was Einstein. And I absolutely agree with him.

      1. Did you look that up?

        1. No need. I’ve been using that as justification for not remembering shit longer than I can remember.

          1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! From Jezebel’s article on the same thing:

            B Fri 15 Jul 2011 11:41 AM
            Thomas Edison said he never memorizes a fact that he can look up. Or something to that effect. Or, maybe it was somebody else. The point being why bother memorizing facts when we have the internet at our fingertips?

            B @B
            Okay, maybe it was Albert Einstein (Thanks, Wikipedia). []
            My point stands, though.

            1. It was Montaigne.

              I’m just making that up and hoping somehow it becomes assumed.

              But who knows, maybe he did.

    2. I’m gonna try and remember that…

    3. Best doctor I ever saw used to look stuff up during an office visit. Told him how impressed I was with that. He said a lot of people were put off by it. Most of what doctors do is pull shit from memory. I’ve seen few that could really analyze something.

    4. Except that quote, which you remembered without looking up. And how to spell believe and use quotations marks, which you didn’t look up. And how you are supposed to capitalize I for the personal pronoun, which you didn’t look up first. And who Einstien was, as a historical figure, which your didn’t have to look up…memorizing information is necessary and good. The internet just allows us to have more information at our fingertips than our brains have happened to store.

  8. Actually, Ron, it wasn’t Socrates’ complaint, it was Jerry Springer’s. And Plato didn’t write it down in the Phaedo. It was the Theaetetus. You really need to work on those Googlin’ skills.

    1. AV: Hmmm. You might want to check out Phaedrus. A different translation, but the same story involving Thamus and Theuth toward the end.

      1. That is so gay. (But, hey, it’s Plato.)

        1. Maybe you should stick to reviewing My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Alan. It seems you’re better at that.

          1. Or writing another piece of poorly-reviewed Sherlock Holmes fanfic.

  9. As an emergency backup, our memories could perhaps also be uploaded into some upgraded future equivalent of a flash drive.

    I can hardly wait for Homeland Security’s Thought Crimes Division to issue a National Security Letter to my brain backup service for any and all thoughts related to any crimes I may have committed or may be planning to commit.

    1. You and me both, buddy.

    2. Can you imagine having to pour through people’s memories, thoughts and dreams as your job? You’d probably see enough fucked up shit to drive you insane.

      1. The best thing to do is only hire assholes and psychos to do that job.

        That way, they’ll just be bored, and not horrified.

        1. Your perversions are dull, trite, pedestrian, and lack dramatic flair.

    3. Which is why you store your memories encrypted with TrueCrypt and include a decoy partition containing a suitable collection of eg. tentacle hentai. Also, you could then honestly swear at witness stand that “I don’t recall”…
      ObPeterGabriel: I Don’t Remember

  10. My memory works oddly. If I can get directions to a place one time I never need them again because my mind keeps a visual memory of the route. To learn the lyrics to a song I have to go over it a few dozen times. The music of the same song sticks after one or two listens.
    I love the internet for the ease of finding things I may need to know. Memorizing huge amounts of information readily available at the click of a mouse seems a huge waste of time to me.

    1. Having to look up every reference, allusion, or fact in order to have an adult conversation seems like a huge waste of time to me.

    2. If I can get directions to a place one time I never need them again because my mind keeps a visual memory of the route.

      What I remember is the actual route I take the first time. And only if I’m driving.

      Which means that if I make a wrong turn the first time, I will make the same wrong turn every fucking time. It sucks, that way. If I get it right the first time, I’m golden. So, there’s that.

      1. I write down directions then forget to bring them with me about 75% of the time. Doesnt matter, because I wrote them down so I know how to get there.

        And once Ive driven it once, Im also gold.

        1. what I meant was that my mind retains a video of the trip. I can visualize 40 miles of mountainous dirt road getting to a hunting spot in Idaho even though I was there one time 25 years ago and could drive there today on the first try. But songs I knew the lyrics to in a band thirty years ago and sang a thousand times? Those are not there anymore. I can sing the guitar solo and the melody but can’t find the words. I have no idea why. My father btw has a perfectly photograghic memory. He learns by sight but his reading comprehension and retention is not so good. It is a mystery to me.

        2. Directions are my driver’s responsibility.

  11. And Ron, “offloading you memories to the web” would actually be a cloud solution. And as many of Amazon’s current cloud clients have experienced…that’s not a good situation at the current technology level. “I need my memories…must call customer service since they’re down right now. ‘Hello? You’re working on it?!?'”

  12. All of us look forward to the real solution to the problem of fading and fallible organic memory also.

  13. I think I remember reading that quote in Technopoly for college. You reminded me of how much I hate Neil Postman, thanks Ron.

    Anyway, the idea of storing memories on computers is really interesting. I’ve always thought it would be neat to sell memories, and even experiences to people.

      1. Yeah, I didn’t think it was too bad.

      2. I remember a girl I was dating back in the 90s going to some chick-flick starring Angela Bassett being surprised when I asked whether she would be kicking people’s asses in the movie. That was thanks to her role in Strange Days.

        That movie also was the one that made me accept Fiennes as a good actor and not as a Nazi.

        1. Don’t lie: it was Maid in Manhattan that did that for you.

          1. jennifer Lopez to ralph fiennes, as she notices she has just sat on a ?campaign? picture of him
            “Oh, I’m sitting on your face.”
            Stuck with me for some reason…

            1. No love for the English Patient?

  14. I think I remember reading that quote in Technopoly for college. You reminded me of how much I hate Neil Postman, thanks Ron.

    Anyway, the idea of storing memories on computers is really interesting. I’ve always thought it would be neat to sell memories, and even experiences to people.

  15. All of us hope the solution to the problem of fading and fallible organic memory also.

  16. good blog,thank you !

    1. Go away, bloggin’!

    2. Go away, bloggin’!

  17. I remember some of my old professors thinking it was wasteful to bother memorizing anything that they could look up in a book.

  18. Imagine the day you can access other people’s memories. You won’t just read about Lindsey Lohan, you’ll get to be her for a short time.

    1. “Like, OMG! I threw up on my pussy again!”

      1. “Like, OMG! My pussy threw up again!”

        1. “Ugh. Like, why do I smell like Sean Penn again?”

          1. Make fun of her all you want, but I like her and hope for the best.

          2. Isn’t Scarjo the one with the stank of Sean Penn all over her?

            I like that about her, by the way. If that homely bastard had a shot, then so do I. I like that thought. It’s the same reason I like Drew Barrymore. And really don’t care for Reese Whitherspoon.

    2. Tim|7.15.11 @ 11:40AM|#
      Imagine the day you can access other people’s memories

      George Saunders wrote about this in CivilWarLand in Bad Decline…the story Offloading for Mrs Schwartz.…about a guy who runs a memory-experience shop.


      At two Mr. Bomphil comes in looking guilty and as always requests Violated Prom Queen, then puts on high heels and selects Treadmill Three. Treadmill Three is behind a beam, so he’s free to get as worked up as he likes, which is very. I try not to hear him moan. I try not to hear him call each football-team member by name.

      He’s followed by Theo Kiley, an appliance salesmen who lays down a ream of Frigidaire specs and asks for Legendary American Killers Stalk You. I strap on his headset. I insert his module. For twenty minutes he hems and haws with Clyde Barrow. Finally he slips up and succumbs to a burst of machine-gun fire, then treats himself to a Sprite. “Whew,” he says. “Next time I’ll know to avoid the topic of his mom.” I remind him he’s got an outstanding bill. He says thanks. He says his bill and his ability to match wits with great criminals are the only outstanding things he’s got. We laugh. We laugh some more. He shakes his head and leaves. I curse him under my breath, then close up early and return to my lonely home.

      Next day Mrs. Gaither from Corporate comes to town. Midway through my Significant Accomplishments Assessment, armless Mr. Feltriggi comes to the door and as usual rings the bell with his face. I let him in and he unloads his totebag of cookbooks for sale. Today it’s “Crazy Cajun Carnival” and “Going Bananas with Bananas: A Caribbean Primer.” But I know what he really wants. With my eyes I tell him wait. Finally Gaither finishes raking my sub-par Disbursement Ledger over the coals and goes across the mall to O My God for some vintage religious statuary. I slip the headset on Feltriggi and run Youth Roams Kansas Hometown, 1932. It’s all homemade bread and dirt roads and affable dogcatchers. What a sweet grin appears. How he greets each hometowner with his ghost limbs and beams at the chirping of the holographic birds. He kneels awhile in Mrs. Lawler’s larder, sniffing spices that remind him of his mother elbow-deep in flour. He drifts out to the shaded yard and discusses Fascism with the iceman near some swaying wheat. His posture changes for the better. He laughs aloud. He’s young again and the thresher has yet to claim his arms.

      Sort of par for the course for Saunders.

      Whole thing here =…..load.shtml

  19. The dullest pencil is sharper than than the strongest memory.

  20. I can’t wait to be in WOW as an avatar.

  21. As an emergency backup, our memories could perhaps also be uploaded into some upgraded future equivalent of a flash drive.

    I keep my brain on my keychain.

    1. Hmm….I keep mine in my pants.

      1. My wife make me keep mine in the freezer.

  22. So much for Socrates.

    in some fairness to the old fat gadfly, in many of the dialogues, his arguments are not arguments intended to present a fixed position to be taken at face value, but rather just contrarian approaches to conventional wisdom intended to reveal a point about assumptions we make about ‘What we know we know”. He’d make that point just to get someone to concede that perhaps it was possible, then take that concession and reveal that even their memories were suspect.

    presenting a research study by a couple of columbia U researchers as ‘undermining’ a theoretical case made by socrates seems to miss the entire point of socratic dialogues in the first place. Were they intended to reach *actual*, final conclusions about any given topic? Its comparing discursive philosophy to narrowly-limited clinical research, which makes fixed assumptions to get to a discrete conclusion…

    What’s memory anyway?

    My grandfather told the same fishing story 10,000 times. the fish was never the same size twice, and everytime there was a new reason why the story was relevant to the topic at hand…

    All events in life were somehow linked to The Fish. I’m not even sure there was a fish. Or needed to be.

  23. Andy Clark talked about this at length back in the 90’s. His book “Being There” (Clark, 1997) puts forth a nice argument about the distributed nature of human intelligence and its reliance on off-loading cognitive capacity to the environment. This is not a new thing for humans, but the tech we use today makes it much easier.

    1. I didn’t have Clark’s name memorized. I had to search. But I used my bookshelf, not google.

      1. I have a book called Being There, but I was sure that it wasn’t the same book that you mention. I couldn’t remember who wrote it though, so I too went to the bookshelf to check. I then googled the title and found this so that others would know what it is that I saw when I looked for Being There on my bookshelf.

        While writing this I remembered that The Painted Bird has the same author. This memory made me feel sadness as The Painted Bird is one of the most fucked up books ever written.

        1. The movie made from Being There is one of Peter Seller’s best. And all of Jerzy Kosinki’s books are fucked up (but always worth a read).

          I do believe that Andy Clark’s book title is an allusion to the Kosinki book, iirc.

          1. One of my favorite movies.

            1. Never saw it, added to netflix as per your recommendation.

              1. Hope you enjoy it.

  24. External “memory” records data. The human memory, as far as we can tell, reconstructs data when needed. How much actual information is stored (versus invented or inferred) is unknown.

    1. This is an important point. And, yes, the details are far from clear.

    2. So the human memory is actually storing Lore?

      Sorry, that was a terrible joke.

      1. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

        1. The 5th best TNG episode!

          Thank you for recognizing that a disassembled Data you could put together when needed would be a Lore.

          Now I know I’m not the only huge loser here.

        2. *wink*

        3. I was going to make a “Darmok” reference in response to kinnath’s comment, further up-thread, that intelligence includes the ability to recognize “similar to.” But I thought such a reference might too geeky even for this thread.

          Thank you for proving me wrong, and for demonstrating why H&R is, and always shall be, my “country” — less undiscovered as time goes on, I hope. 😉

  25. And in other news, cars make us less likely to walk…

  26. Great Socrates quote. I’ll have to bookmark that.

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