On "The Future of Remembering"


At my last tattoo appointment (well, one before last), I picked up a copy of Vice to read while Ben stabbed a needle into my leg. I'm not normally a Vice reader but 'The Future Of Remembering" ended up playing on my mind. Written by Rachel Reiderer, this article goes into the science behind memory, and what we might do with that technology, and as someone who works with those with dementia this is all rather fascinating, but concerning. One company has now reached the human experimentation phase, although that can't say exactly how memory is encoded, stored, and retrieved they can implant false memories into mice.

I'll try to not to get too r/conspiracy but the idea of being able to implant false memories is almost a plot from a Chuck Palahniuk novel.

This technology has the ability to improve so many lives, but just because we can, does it mean we should?

Reiderer outlines the two main uses for technology that helps us to improve our memories, the commercial use and the health use. For those with brain injuries, epilepsy, Dementia this technology could do so much, those who suffer with PTSD may not have to, with a re-wiring of our memory centres.

But what of those commercial uses? It isn't too far fetched to imagine being able to by a 'memory-chip' for our own brains. A cognitive enhancement for those that can pay. I've probably read far too much Dystopian fiction because that idea terrifies me. I am, unashamedly, one of these people that is concerned that one day any artificial intelligence may come and kill me in my sleep.

You might be thinking I'm being extremest, that I'm being far-fetched but one look at the news these days and suddenly I don't feel like I'm being daft.

Bryan Johnson, of Kernel muses that those with the wealth may one day be able to become mentally advanced, of using technology rather than education to reach this new level of being-ness.

Would I? Being able to afford it, upgrade my memory? If it were a life or death decision, I might be persuaded.

This whole memory thing also reminds me of the full body transplant.

Back in 2015 I read an article on how scientists believed that they were two years away from transplanting a head onto a donor body. In 2016 The Telegraph reported that they had successfully transplanted a monkey's head onto another monkey's body.

This science could provide those who are paralysed and those with physically degenerative diseases a whole new life, but where are the bodies coming from? Many brain dead patients become organ donors, so I'm not sure how much of a leap it is do donate the whole body. Limbs are donated too, and these transplants are becoming more successful, if not more available.

Can you imagine the psychological impact of having someone else's arm? We all know I'm not the most mentally healthy so maybe someone with mental healthy-ness could take to such extensive surgery much better than I.

Science is weird, guys, and fascinating, but really, really, fucking weird. Ethically I wonder if we should be doing this, I see so much potential for abuse (such as the wealthy growing their own bodies to enable lengthy, lengthy lives), I see so much potential for good, but my mind turns back to Orwellian situations too often.

I don't have any answers, and maybe there is not a right or wrong answer. Maybe it's just the way we further the human race, maybe it's the way we move forward, maybe it's the way we engineer our demise (I'm going with that one.)