A few days ago I bought a new I Terabyte USB hard drive for my computer, to replace the one I had been using before which was only 160 Gigabyte. This increase in storage capacity recently started me thinking about where this will lead in the future and what applications will become possible. If the current trend continues some incredible things will become possible and if those become commonplace it will necessitate significant changes in society.
One of the applications that will soon be possible is Life Logging. I’ve read about this recently in a science fiction novel by Charles Stross and that is where I got the term Life Logging. In life logging you have a camera and microphone with you that records every moment of your life. While this might seem outlandish the technology to accomplish this already exists today, though you would have to download your records to a larger storage on a daily basis. But as flash storage continues to improve, increase in size and decrease in cost, Life Logging will become ever more practical.
In addition to data storage, microphones and video cameras are getting smaller and cheaper all the time, yet with an improvement in the quality of their output. Much of this improvement has been driven by the component needs of cellular telephones. The availability of these components as well as the ever growing amount of storage makes Life Logging more possible all the time. Perhaps this is even a capability that might be added to cell phones.
When this capability arrives the changes that will come for both individuals will be profound. Consider what life would be like if you could remember every moment of your day, recall with perfect clarity anything and everything that happened to you, every word you and others around you say. Think about how this would change your life and how different it would become.
For society there are also profound implications. With a perfect record of someone’s activities what would be the effect upon the criminal justice system? With life logging proof of guilt and innocence would become simply a matter of reviewing the record. And of course there is also the question of how privacy would be impacted. How much control would a person have over his own life log? I suspect the technical capability will arrive long before the rules of law and society address the resulting issues. In the end I think many things will be forced to change.
Once we start recording information of this magnitude we will also need tools for searching and displaying it. Except for certain situations I doubt that many people would want to spent hours viewing a life log just to find the portion they are interested in. So new tools will need to be developed allowing you to search through a life log and find the portion you are interested in.
Another trend which will segue in with the growth in storage capacity is the connectivity of the individual to the Internet. This is something that you can already see starting with the rapidly increasing popularity of smart cell phones. These phones now have significant processing power in addition to access to the Internet.