Gordon Bell doesn’t need to remember, but has no chance of forgetting. At the age of 71, he is recording as much of his life as modern technology will allow, storing it all on a vast database: a digital facsimile of a life lived.
If he goes for a walk, a miniature camera that dangles from his neck snaps pictures every minute or so, immediately committing the scene to a memory built not of neurons but ones and noughts. If he wanders into a cafe, sensors note the change in light, the shift of temperature and squirrel the information away. Conversations are recorded and steps logged thanks to a GPS receiver carried with him.
Dr Bell has now stored so much of his life on computer that he is in danger of forgetting how to remember. “I look at it as a surrogate memory,” he says. If he wants to recall something, he switches on and picks his way through days and months of information until he finds what he is after. It was all dreamt up at Microsoft’s Bay Area Research Centre in San Francisco, where Dr Bell works…
Thanks to Wesley Bradley of Activate Design for spotting the broken link to Gordon Bell.