Memories and Blurred Self Identity

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Aferrone 7 months ago.

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  • #5918


    In the book, Bess briefly mentioned the idea of memory and how it relates to the formation of personal identity. As the idea of sharing memories in a brain-to-brain communication becomes a potential possibility in the future (although it may be completely impossible; we do not know yet) it begs the question of how people will continue to keep their personal identity separate from others. I can only imagine that this intimate transfer of memory will impact us in a powerful way and will allow us to much more accurately understand what others experience and be able to truly empathize with people completely different from ourselves.

    However, after an extended period of time, this sharing will probably become increasingly difficult to differentiate between your own memories and others. Our individual perspectives on our experiences are what make us truly who we are and allow us to differentiate ourselves from others. Once this is shared with our peers, our individual experiences will be diluted and no longer completely personal. The boundaries of the self will be blurred and I cannot even image what the consequences of this will be. Would we begin to become a more unified society or will this result in individuals struggling to define who they are apart from everyone else?

    Additionally, in the book the idea of trading and buying memories was mentioned. If there becomes a market for buying and selling memories, how will this effect society and how thoughts, ideas, and experiences are shared? Also, will memories become a new form of media and cause a threat of “pirating” these memories or create a need for a system of copyright?

  • #5921


    I agree with the OP’s argument that memory sharing will have profound effects on our society. However, I think in imagining a more unified society from memory transfer there is an assumption that people will share their memories freely if they can. I do not believe this will be the case. Depending on the memory, people might be reluctant to share it with their co-workers or even their loved ones. In fact, sharing some memories could become an expectation between groups and individuals and if this expectation is not met, it might drive people apart. Therefore, I do not think that society will grow closer with the advent of this potential technology. In addition, I think the trading of memories or copyrighting memories would not lead to a more uniform society or even a loss of one’s sense of self. If memories are commoditized, individuals will have enhanced awareness that a particular memory is theirs.

  • #5924


    OP’s point is interesting because they bring up the idea that basically anything that can be bought and sold can be stolen as well. This taking of memories by force has interesting applications for the criminal justice system as well. If police can forcibly view a suspect’s memories, how will this affect the way criminal trials are carried out (will this make our entire justice system obsolete?). Of course, in the many ways that government is reduced due to memory enhancements, it will certainly grow in other areas in order to compensate for the unimaginable complications and policies that will be necessary to accommodate for the changing society.

  • #5925


    I would like to respond to johance’s comments above as they pertain to personal identity and the implications of shared memories. I think that whatever avenue we take towards this sharing of memories- and thus effectively experiences as well- a way to differentiate “self” from “other” would be invaluable to our preservation of “personal identity”. I could imagine a tiered system of memories as well, starting with personal ones, then family members, close friends, maybe even pets or robots, acquaintances etcetera. Labels or categories of memories differentiating personal life from professional, platonic from romantic could even further organize our memories. I think our personal identity is forged through our experiences, both alone and in the society of others, but what takes those experiences and makes them a part of who we are is our interpretation of them, our own processing. Sharing memories with others as our own would confuse, dilute and interfere with our formation of a unique self and thus I think it would be very helpful to somehow be able to differentiate those memories by who they were formed by. I don’t see how we could possibly function as unique people with various people’s experiences treated equally as ours. Imagine a way to download memories from others (as johance alluded to), take celebrities for example. Following the Kardashian’s every move would take on a whole new meaning, one that would literally threaten who we are if we do not develop a mechanism to differentiate experiences created by ourselves and those created by others.

  • #5926


    I agree with some of your points, JFerg. People already can be unwilling to share various experiences verbally, so this extremely personal experience of sharing the memories directly to someone else will probably be intimidating and potentially uncomfortable.
    The point about social pressure of sharing memories is interesting because this could translate to people forcing information out of someone else by directly accessing their memories. This could threaten security of confidential information of all types including extremely important secret government information as well as just personal information and relationships. This is a dangerous consequence of this ability that could cause serious issues.

  • #5940


    I completely agree with marklpickett regarding how memories may be bought, sold, or stolen. It is interesting to think about how the criminal justice system might need ramifications in a society where memories can be transmitted, traded, and accessed by others. Like the Apple court case these past few months, individuals and entities may be reluctant to share personal information, even if that information can be helpful in a criminal investigation. Just as how everyone has the right to remain silent, perhaps everyone will have the right to keep their memories and private information to him or herself as well. On the other hand, while some people may want to access certain memories, others may want to delete memories. Like the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, perhaps someone who is heartbroken will want to sell or completely get rid of memories with his or her ex. In the future, if memories are treated like property that can be traded, I believe there will be significant issues and ramifications as to what kind of interventions are legal, moral, and within individual rights. Moreover, I wonder how individuals will monitor or regulate access to these memories. For example, if someone provides someone else with a memory, can access to that memory be taken back? Or if someone gets rid of memories as in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, will he/she be able to retrieve lost memories?

  • #5957


    I agree with the above argument that the ability to transmit and share memories will have a profound impact on society. Additionally, I believe that it will increase our ability to connect and empathize with other people. Even though the feasibility of this technology may be a few decades away, I believe that within a few years we will see strides in the ability to share memories and connect with other people. However, rather than through a direct brain-to-brain interface, this will become possible through technologies such as Virtual Reality.
    Only a few days ago, at Facebook’s F8 conference for developers, Mike Schroepfer (the CTO of Facebook) introduced the possibility of using devices such as the Oculus Rift to more seamlessly transport ourselves and others into memories. In the following video (, he displays the powers of the Oculus Rift by jumping into different 360 degree photos with a fellow Facebook employee. More specifically, after putting the Oculus Rift on, he was transported to a virtual world filled with different spheres of memories that he could experience. Not only was he able to recall his time traveling in these places, but he could do it with another person who was also using the Oculus Rift. It simply involved bringing the sphere to his head and immediately he was placed in an immersive 360 degree image of Paris or London.

    Therefore, I believe one of the many potentials involved with this technology is that it represents a less invasive way to transmit and share memories with other people. Furthermore, rather than what one may assume will happen after the introduction of VR (where people become more inclined to live in a virtual world and thus isolate themselves from others), this clip displays that it could have the opposite effect. In fact, it could help us bridge the cultural gap to better relate to others who are different from us by experiencing their worlds and even their memories.

    Echoing this view was Mark Zuckerberg himself. He recalled that his parents recorded the memory of his first steps in an old fashioned baby book. Then, years later, one was able to record this type of memory by taking a photo or even a video. However, with his own daughter, Zuckerberg wishes to record this memory in a different fashion: by capturing it all 360 degrees of the moment. Therefore “when Max takes her first step, we’ll be able to capture that whole scene, not just write down the date or take a photo or take a little 2-D video… The people we want to share this with can go there. They can experience that moment.” Although this seems far-fetched, using Facebook’s newly released 17 lens stereoscopic 3D camera (which they open-sourced the hardware design to and also the algorithm used to stitch the images into a 360 degree moment), this method to transmit memories becomes much more realistic than first assumed. In conclusion, I believe that while the ability to transmit memories through brain-to-brain devices is still years and even decades away, newly released technology such as VR offers an intermediary, less invasive step to achieve these ends.

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