Re: Recovered Memories

Anders Sandberg (
26 Apr 1999 19:02:12 +0200

"Scott Badger" <> writes:

> Questions for Anders and anyone else who feels qualified:
> (1) What do you believe the feasible limits of memory enhancement will be
> ultimately?

My guess is that chemical enhancements are limited, they only affect the plasticity of memory and that means we can merely make it optimal, not go much beyond current levels (let's say a few tens of percent) if we want to keep both good generalization and clarity. Organizing information has proven itself a great way of enhancing memory orders of magnitude (mnemonics, ars memoriam, study techniques). External support systems (paper, computers) also can hold arbitrary amounts of information in perfect clarity, but are not as easily accessed.

My guess is that the ultimate limits of memory enhancement will be input-output to the brain and processing rather than the brain itself. The optimal memory enhancement without neurointerfaces would be proper use of modulating drugs and memory techniques, but with neurointerfaces the modulation could both be made much more specific ("Mark *this* memory") and external systems could give direct support. Wearables with remembrance agents are a good start. Note that this would make it possible to "cheat" the generalization-clarity dilemma by storing generalized memories in the brain for processing, and the clear data in external systems.

> (2) Would uploading likely remove all the blocked pathways and enable
> complete access?

No. Uploading would not change the neural net of the brain, and the blocks are "software problems" (problems with retrieval dynamics, bad indexing, mis-associations etc). But interfacing and modulating the brain becomes much simpler, of course. I would expect a fast rate of innovation once people start to upload themselves.

> (3) How useful would these recovered memories be if their clarity was
> compromised due to the constructive and confabulatory nature of memory?

Depends on the application - most of the time this causes few problems, but when in the witness stand or trying to remember the formula for sin(5x) it becomes troublesome. This is why I think having several levels of storage is a good idea: from highly generalized memories that when recalled are rather constructive, over to clear recordings of experiences.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  

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