Total Recall: How the E-memory Revolution Will Change Everything

Front Cover

Total Recall provides a glimpse of the near future. Imagine heart monitors woven into your clothes and tiny wearable audio and visual recorders automatically capturing what you see and hear. Imagine being able to summon up the e-memories of your great grandfather and his avatar giving you advice about whether or not to go to college, accept that job offer, or get married. The range of potential insights is truly awesome. But Bell and Gemmell also show how you can begin to take better advantage of this new technology right now. From how to navigate the serious question of privacy and serious problem of application compatibility to what kind of startups Bell is willing to invest in and which scanner he prefers, this is a book about a turning point in human knowledge as well as an immediate practical guide..
Total Recall is a technological revolution that will accomplish nothing less than a transformation in the way humans think about the meaning of their lives.

"I am not sure whether recording everything we see, hear and do is the landfill or landscape of our lives, because thoughts and memories are their own reality. But I am sure that Total Recall is a must read due to its inevitability, seminal nature and clairvoyant authors." -Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital

"Gordon Bell is one of the great visionaries in the computer industry. In Total Recall he paints a picture of a world where computing is far more personal than anything we have seen so far, where digital memory appliances supplement the human mind and store all the details of your life. Like much of Gordon's work it is a characteristically bold and exciting vision of computing. He takes us to a future which is just around the corner, but which would be hard to glimpse without him."
-Nathan Myhrvold, co-founder of Intellectual Ventures

"For decades, the tech world has been going gaga for "Moore's Law", which describes how much faster and more powerful personal electronics becomes over time, but in the last decade, most of the really big freakouts have been as a result of the explosion in our ability to capture and store data... What happens when being alive means being in record mode, for everybody? It's a change that is at once astonishing and imminent. Gordon and Jim are at the center of this kind of work, and just the guys to write the book."
-Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody

"Total Recall does a marvelous job of exploring first- hand the implications of storing our entire lives digitally. And just in time! -- the technology is already here and will be ubiquitous before we know it."
-Guy L. Tribble, MD, PhD, Vice President of Software Technology, Apple Inc.

"Economists, along with everyone else, will be astounded by the wide ranging social and personal benefits of Total Recall digital technology."
-Tyler Cowen, author of Create Your Own Economy

"As you warm to the ideas expressed in Total Recall, you find yourself reaching for your digital camera to record the moment just gone by."
-Donna Dubinsky, CEO of Numenta, co-founder of Palm and Handspring

"Wow! Thanks for this book. I've been fascinated by MyLifeBits for years; it's certainly inspired our thinking at Evernote."
-Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote

"Extraordinarily prescient but also entertaining...Total Recall is of paramount importance in the new, increasingly paperless world."
-Leslie Berlowitz, Executive Director of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

"Total Recall offers a prescient view of the powerful use of today's information tomorrow. Gordon provides provocative insights, entertaining stories, and fundamental advancements in recall enabled by tools readily available today that immediately enhance the capture, access and sharing of numerous forms of information."
-Jim Marggraff, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Livescribe, Inc.

"Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell paint a vivid and personal picture of a revolution that is already in progress, a revolution that will transform our future by making our past transparent. Clear, detailed, and permanent knowledge of ourselves and others will change the fiber of our lives and societies, pervasively, from meal planning to constitutional law. If we are blind to the implications, we'll be trying to solve the wrong problems with obsolete tools. Total Recall will open eyes, and the more, the better."
-Dr. K. Eric Drexler, author of Engines of Creation

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

An e-memory is a type of interactive external personal memory. In a decade, it will be used to capture, store and find all of one’s past experiences, or those of others who have been immortalized. The e-memory machine is part of a network that preserves data, a familiar example of which might be sports broadcasts. This is built by digitizing previous stuff, logging life/health/notes/stories, and using it privately or possibly in business; a list of ten kinds of startups is provided. Wearable biosensors and environmental links round out applications for health, education, work and security, e.g. involving clusters of relationships over time, or perfect historical knowledge. Science now includes Gray’s paradigm of source materials in addition to observation, theory and simulation, where the model shapes understanding, This book is a type of presentation; videos are another. Other examples are large wallsavers or MyCyberTwin personas.
Readers probably have a field day considering potential futures. There are now many disparities between various selective memories, e.g. w.r.t official agendas. Digital divide still needs resolution. Authenticity and privacy become more significant. Definition of IP requires clarification. Standards may change the notion of identity, e.g. via memory exchange. Open-source memory seems possible.
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User Review - Flag as inappropriate
The forward is written by Bill Gates: "What would happen if we could instantly access all the information we were exposed to throughout our lives
OK...I'll take it further: what if every piece of information there ever was could be accessed? We're not there, and I doubt that we will ever get there. But, what if?...
(And, we're off and running.)
...This book should be a good read for various kinds of people. Like people who collect...anything. Those interested in data management. Those who have a difficult time being organized, and those who are very organized. What to keep. How to keep it. It covers a broad scope of considerations for many.

About the author (2009)

GORDON BELL, one of the world s preeminent computer scientists, is a principal researcher at Microsoft. He lives in San Francisco and Sydney, Australia.
JIM GEMMELL, senior researcher at Microsoft, has been working with Bell since 1995. He lives in San Francisco.

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