Monday, July 2, 2012

Terabytes of memory

Typing something up recently, my mind wandered into an odd question: I wonder how many times I have hit the space bar with my right thumb.

I didn't wonder how often I did it in just that typing session, but for my whole life.

The human brain is an incredible data and logic machine, but I wish it was even more like a computer sometimes. I wish it recorded everything, just like a computer. If I could only access my brain's file, I could find out my space bar question. And I could ...

-- Find out how many steps I have taken in my lifetime. How many miles I have run. How many pairs of shoes I've gone through.

-- Figure out the exact moment I learned something. A new word. A historical fact. Addition. A simple skill such as putting on a shirt or opening a cheese wrapper.

-- Discover how many dreams I've had over my lifetime. Identify each one. I've written lucid dreams down before, but it's never is as accurate as the actual dream. And while on the subject of sleep, I could find out how many hours and minutes I have slept since birth.

-- Track everything I have consumed. How many potato chips have I eaten in 41-plus years? How many ounces of deodorant have I applied to my underarms? How many miles have I driven behind the wheel of a car (or even as a passenger)? These things would make a fascinating spreadsheet.

-- Remember every detail, exciting and mundane, from every moment of my life, with clarity. I can write down everything I do every minute of the day if I wanted to, but inevitably, even if I read it the next day, I would be trusting my words to tell me the minutiae of every moment rather than actually remember it all. I can blog about every day to get the memories down, and I'm thankful for that, but the reality is, I have already forgotten things that happened 10 minutes ago while I was typing on my laptop, including the words at the top of this post. One of my neighbors just walked by with his baby in a stroller -- how soon before I forget that happened?

I wish that, like a computer, a utility existed that could unearth all this lost information from my brain. I'm convinced it's all up there, like when out of nowhere, a snippet of a long-past dream pops into my thoughts for no apparent reason. My iTunes can tell me how many times I have listened to a song, so why can't my brain? The external drives of my life -- writing things down, telling others, and so on -- are not sufficient for my storage needs. I need more terabytes, as well as a better search function to find the files I require. 

The human brain is amazing, but sometimes, I feel it's still in its beta test.

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