MyLifeBits

For the project Off The Wall, I researched mind uploading, or whole brain emulation, and how this might effect us in the future, especially concerning health and privacy. I figured there would be a lot of money in for anti-virus companies as computer health, in a constantly online environment would be of prime importance. This was considering the concept of transferring existing information to a neural prosthetic. I have just discovered a case however where something in the same vein.

Gordon Bell, for the past 10 years has been taking part in the project MyLifeBits. This has meant scanning every document possible from his life including health records, emails sent and received, notebooks, paper notes, and even screenshots of every visited web page. ‘URL to my e-memory’ – Bell explains that although he has captured almost everything physical in his life, his biomemory (…brain) is the accessor for the e-memory, in essence a URL. Unlike mind uploading, he must be present for the information collected to make any sort of sense.

The Microsoft Research website also states ‘MyLifeBits is a system that began in 2001 to explore the use of SQL to store all personal information found in PCs.’

The camera he carries round his neck, a Vicon Revue is based on Microsoft SenseCam technology – which is also being developed for use by those with impaired memory. It’s no ordinary digital camera.

More info on that here – http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/cambridge/projects/sensecam/default.htm

Similar to MyLifeBits, mind uploading could exist alongside a human’s life, recording every neural process in a digital format, teaching the human brain as well as the computer. Rather than uploading the information all at once, the computer would be there the whole time. A different concept to the original, but interesting nonetheless.

For the visualisation aspect of my project, I’d like to refer to this article – Human brain uses grid to represent space. I really like this image too –

A virtual reality environment which human participants explored while lying in an fMRI brain scanner. An example of the spatially-organised firing pattern of a grid cell is overlaid on the arena floor.

I’ve just began watching this – I’m 20 minutes in – and strangely for me I’m disappointed that in the context of technology and science in the past 350 yearsthey are talking about the internet and Twitter. Stephen Fry quite rightly mentioned the advance of electricity and the electric motor. Hoping they will go a bit further back in time because I’d love to learn some old stuff!

I’m focusing my study currently on this and similar subjects as I feel it is an important topic of discussion for the future of graphic design. While I believe print material and to an extent current online material (in the form of static rectangular websites) will continue and not completely diminish, design & visualisation in the digital age  – with biological and general scientific advances in particular – will become more vital. I’m not 100% what I mean or what I am trying to achieve at the moment, but hopefully I will find out in time for my dissertation! (Although I would prefer a live project).

In my next post I’m going to discuss noise and other issues raised in Maeda & Media as well as Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.

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