The Speculist: Record Everything


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Record Everything

The Futurist Magazine has published its annual Top 10 Forecasts.

I found the first prediction the most interesting: "Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030."

I think it would be possible to do this much sooner. Data storage devices are getting smaller (in physical size) and bigger (in storage capacity) all the time. In five years we could see iPod sized devices with the storage capacity to record for days bluetoothed to a tiny camera and mic mounted to eyeglass frames.

Possible, of course, doesn't mean wide adoption. It will only be widely adopted when it becomes an arms race.

Those who record everything - call them, er... "Recorders" - will be in possession of history. If, for example, there were a disagreement a Recorder could edit a version of the events to favor his point of view. Perhaps he could even add or delete data. Unless the other party were also recording, they'd have no defense against historical revisionism. This is becoming a problem already. Glenn Reynolds argued in the New York Post that political candidates should bring their own cameras to interviews.

Obviously there are privacy concerns with ubiquitous recording. New laws will be necessary. We will come to have an expectation of privacy in our own data. We'll insist that warrants for private data be limited in scope - something like "where were you on the night of the 25th between the hours of 10 and 11?" This rather than, "let me see all your data from the last year."

We'll also have some expectation of privacy to other people's data. X-boyfriends who post certain recordings on the Internet should expect to be prosecuted. This kind of involuntary pornography should be seen as a sex offense.

Once these privacy concerns are worked out, ubiquitous recording could be a great force for good. Opportunistic petty crime might still be possible, but a life of serious or violent crime would be next to impossible.

And we'll have search functions to help us remember... everything. You need to hear the teacher's lecture again before the test? Search and replay. You lost your car keys? Search for the most recent image of your keys in your data.

Every test of life will be open book.

Eventually these recordings will help us rebuild moments in our lives to relive virtually. Weddings and birthday parties certainly, but less happy occasions might be even more important. If a person has a problem with anger, they could replay times when they acted inappropriately and learn from it. Those with dependancy problems can learn to avoid triggers.

The immediacy and accuracy of this literal photographic memory is just another way we can make ourselves smarter. Perhaps this is another path to the Singularity.


Sounds like this will make us dumber than google and cellphones have. Maybe not dumber but certainly dependent...

I'm not as confident as you that people in general are looking for tools to self-improve. Though perhaps if easier, they will use them more often and effectively.

I'd do it now if I thought I could do it for less than $200

If a person has a problem with anger, they could replay times when they acted inappropriately and learn from it. Those with dependancy problems can learn to avoid triggers.

On the other hand, people who have trouble letting go of the past might be enabled in a very unhealthy way. This could be especially bad for those who peak early -- the high school football star or prom queen might spend the rest of their lives reliving a few hours from their youth -- a technology-enabled version of the Boss's "Glory Days."

What's the deep need for recording everything that happens in our life? Lifelogging

I think it would be good for politicians to have to wear these recording devices most of the time. A law should be passed that they must wear them as a condition of office.

Faster, please.

My biggest problem in work is the constant barrage of requests for action, opinions, assistance ... and a constant struggle to record and prioritize all these inputs. Anything that helps me organize quickly and efficiently will be a godsend.

In my personal life? Mixed blessings. My only worry is getting hacked; from embarrassment to harassment to extortion to industrial espionage, this cries out for robust security and use protocols.

Sexual harassment and similar workplace laws will drive recording. It's a standing joke in corporate America that one casual statement, taken out of context, will destroy one's career. That joke arises from a very real fear. People will begin to record themselves just to prevent a "he said, she said" (or vice versa) wherein the person on top is presumed to be at fault.

Oh wow. Gavcam for real.

I'll pass.

Simultaneously exciting and horrifying - it would be so handy, and also so subject to abuse!

But politicians should definitely start taking their own recordings of interviews to keep the press honest. I'm IN the press; we can't be trusted ;)

Bob Shaw's "Light of Other Days" comes--slowly--to mind.

"On the other hand, people who have trouble letting go of the past might be enabled in a very unhealthy way."

Reminds me of that magic mirror in the Harry Potter movie.

In the Victorian era, a breakup would be formalized by the Party of the First Part demanding the return of her letters from the Party of the Second Part, and vice versa. In the future, First Part will demand proof of erasure of all footage including her, and vice versa.

Of course, all footage will be stored on secure repudiation-proof servers. No one will take footage seriously from fakeable storage. "Erasure" will probably take the form of legally sealing the data on the official server (encrypting with a key only available to law enforcement).

Honestly, I don't see why it should be a problem to record your own conversations, even if you're talking with others. The expectation of privacy doesn't truly work, because you can use a recording to create a blog post about a conversation in its entirety and it's not illegal at all. It's protected 1st Amendment speech. You can talk about your conversation with anyone. It's also 1st Amendment speech.

But if you play a recording, or even make it, you're somehow violating someone's privacy, even though you're privy to the conversation at hand and are merely recording what you yourself heard.

This makes no sense.

Sort of like "the Lorax", only different. Instead of protecting the environment, the Memex protects us from the Orwellian memory hole. If we all have our own personal copy of everything we experience, we can't be lied to later about it.

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