Resistance is Futile 02: Out of Memory Error

In the current issue of Wired (15.10), columnist Clive Thompson talks about the recent decline human memory. He suggests that reason people remember less now is because they don't need to.

That reflexive gesture — reaching into your pocket for the answer — tells the story in a nutshell. Mobile phones can store 500 numbers in their memory, so why would you bother trying to cram the same info into your own memory? Younger Americans today are the first generation to grow up with go-everywhere gadgets and services that exist specifically to remember things so that we don't have to: BlackBerrys, phones, thumb drives, Gmail.

But is this a problem?

In The Matrix, when people needed to learn a new skill, they could just have it downloaded into their mind. I'd like to be able to do that. Imagine the possibiliities of having a memory card slot in your head that allowed you to download new information or skills.

I've talked before about adding senses, VR goggles, Modafinil, and other ways the improve on biology. Biology and technology continue to converge.

But in reality, are we alread there? Sure we can't download the information immediately into the brain, but we can get it all on the internet.

It may seem obvious, but the problem is nothing more than an interface one. The Keyboard-Mouse-Ears-Eyes interface between the Internet and the brain is simply too slow and clumsy.

And that's the realm where improvements will come in the next few decades. Either the interface will be improved, or it will be replaced.

To expand the idea even further, at what point does the body itself superflous?

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