Futurisms: Critiquing the project to reengineer humanity

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life blahg

CNN recently ran an article about Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell's efforts to record every aspect of his life (which they credulously dub "converting his brain into 'e-memory'"). And over at the Singularity Hub, Keith Kleiner notes an advance in the technology:
Lifelogging – recording every single minute of your life (or as much of it as possible) – continues its unstoppable march towards the mainstream with the announcement that Vicon will soon release a life recording device called the Revue. The device is worn around your neck and automatically takes photos up to every 30 seconds.
Despite Kleiner's use of the rhetoric of inevitability — a standard device among transhumanists — lifelogging is a complicated subject, with a lot of ins, outs, and what-have-yous; it's a subject we'll return to on this blog. But in the meantime, XKCD concisely and beautifully gets at one of the core problems:

Of course, the sort of issues raised by the comic have been with us as long as we have had both the technologies to record — photography, video, journal-writing, portraiture, and other media — and the impulse to create narratives of one's life for oneself and for others. But just because that impulse is venerable doesn't mean that it has not changed over time; today, as we are able to indulge that impulse ever more easily, there is a growing sense that our technologies and habits can impede the very experiences they are meant to safely seal away for later remembrance.


  1. Don't they make those types of cameras for cats?

    Also, you really need to read Snow Crash. It's pretty relevant to your blahg.

  2. They do! I think it's actually sort of an entertaining prospect for cats, and the critters aren't liable to the same sorts of problems as we are. (Though we are in how we treat them.)

    Yeah, I know I need to read Snow Crash. Several people have been bugging me to read Stephenson. Rita Koganzon actually did a piece for us recently on it.

  3. By the way, madam, this venerable venue is a blog. I aim to keep it from becoming a blahg!

  4. Snow Crash is a great read. (Rita's piece just mentions it in the introduction, but is mostly about Second Life. But John Derbyshire did review Stephenson's Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon for us, and Charlie Rubin's review of Anathem was in our Summer issue — and we're hosting Alan Jacobs's review of Anathem, too.)


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