No one can argue that technology has changed how humans think and behave in a very fundamental way. A very simple example is how easy cell phones have made it to meet up with someone while you are out. Before the cell phone you had to carefully plan where and when you would meet while nowadays you just use the cell when it’s time. This may sound like a small thing, but it’s a big change in how you think about planning and also in required personal responsibility.
Another area that I think will make a big impact is forms of memory enhancing technology. People have used PDAs with calendars for a while, but that’s just the beginning. I’ve recently been cleaning my e-mail archive because I’m switching computers. The e-mail data-base dates back to 1997, and basically contains most of my conversations I’ve had over the computer. This data-base together with Google Desktop is a very powerful tool to help me remember my dealings with persons around me, where I can with a quick search find out why that name seemed familiar to me, or who to contact at a specific company. I was abruptly reminded of how important this was to me when my mail client decided to ignore writing actual data to the files I exported, leaving me with a blank data-base for the period of April 2006 to yesterday. Apart from the frustration and having a hard time answering some of the mails I’ve recently received, it’s also a fundamental feeling of loss. I’ve realized that that data-base has become something I’ve relied on to help me remember things. Why write things down anywhere if you know you can access them so easily?
It also got me thinking on the future of such memory enhancing devices. One project I’ve been planning to do but am still waiting for the technology to mature is a non-stop audio diary. Basically I want to have a digital audio recorded on my person at all times, recording everything that goes on around me. The use of that data may be limited for a while longer, but it’s not unreasonable to think that within it is possible to automatically transcribe audio to text with good quality in ten years. Suddenly you have a searchable data-base of everything you’ve said and what’s been said to you. Imagine someone telling you a telephone number and by just hearing it, you can be certain that that information will be available when you need it. A friend of mine had an even better example of how that technology could be used:
– Just think of think of how great it would be when you are fighting with your girlfriend and she says “But you should have told me you are going to be with your friends tonight!” and I could prove to her that I did so.
While that was mostly for fun there is a big point in there. A lot of conflict in the world is caused by miscommunication and subjective perception. That would potentially change if this technology was common-place.
I believe the technology is almost ready for me to start my personal recording. The problem is to find a recorder that can manage to record up to 24 hours on one battery-charge, but if anyone has any suggestions about what hardware would be good for such a project, please let me know.