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An Eternal Digital Life

I hate to keep bragging about ideas I've had in the past, but in this case I must. Twenty years ago, while I was editor in chief of Amiga World magazine, we built a monster machine capable of storing and editing a couple of hours' worth of broadcast video. It was impressive at the time.

That made me think about what could be done with nearly unlimited storage. First, I thought one could digitize everything that comes over the TV and watch shows whenever you want. Sounds like a TiVo to me. I blew that one.

I also thought that your life, memories, writing, audio, video and photographs could all be digitized, along with a 3-D rendering of your entire body. That, I surmised, could make an amazing memorial. Instead of a passive gravestone, you could have an interactive tour of you for anyone that passes by. In fact, some companies have apparently made or tried to make a version of this in recent years.

Now Microsoft researchers are working on a similar concept. Gordon Bell, father of the DEC VAX and now a leading Microsoft researcher, is putting it into action, digitizing as much of his life as possible. He's recording phone calls (I hope he knows the wiretapping laws of his home state), digitizing pictures, archiving e-mail and saving anything he can put his hands on. Microsoft hopes to build tools that automatically do the same for you.

This is a terrific idea (that I had 20 years ago), but make sure what you save can't be used against you in a divorce, court of law or job interview!

Posted by Doug Barney on September 25, 2009


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