E-Memory and Human Nature


Human memory is a famously tricky thing. We remember some things. We forget a lot more. And we shape and sculpt the memories we do have with a vengeance.

But more and more, the actual events of our lives are being recorded electronically. In Facebook albums and Twitter posts and smartphone files, yes, but also in thousands of digital transactions we don’t even think about.

Now, two top Microsoft computer scientists are talking about an era of e-memory — “total recall” — as a revolution in what it means to be human.

This hour, On Point: E-memory, total recall, and human nature.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Joining us from San Francisco are Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, co-authors of “Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything.” Bell has been a principal researcher at Microsoft Research since 1995.  Prior to that, he was vice president of research and devlopment for Digital Equipment Corporation from 1960 to 1983. He is the first user of “MyLifeBits,” a project funded by Microsoft to experiment with “lifeblogging.” He has been called “the Frank Lloyd Wright of computers.” Jim Gemmell is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research. His work has led to features in Windows XP,, and more, and he has worked with Gordon Bell on the MyLifeBits project.

Joining us from New York is Douglas Rushkoff, professor of media studies at the New School University, technology columnist for The Daily Beast, and author of “Life Inc: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back,” “Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out,” and numerous other books.

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