- 章节名：The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling
- 页码：第192页 2019-07-02 06:08:49
Here was the line at which the pursuit of truth ceased to be an intrinsic good. When the only persons affected have a persnoal relationship with each other, other priorities are often more important, and a forensic pursuit of the turth could be harmful. Did it really matter whose idea it was to take the vacation that turned out so disastrously? Did you need to know which partner was more forgetful about completing errands the other person requested? I was no expert on marriage, but I knew what marriage counselors said: pinpointing blame wasn't the answer. Instead, couples needed to acknowledge each other's feelings and address their problems as a team.
You could not find the places where words began and ended by listening. The sounds a person made while speaking were as smooth and unbroken as the hide a goat's leg, but the words were like the bones underneath the meat, and the space between them was the joint where you'd cut if you wanted to separate it into pieces. By leaving spaces when he wrote, Moseby was making visible the bones in what he said.
Jijingi reliazed that, if he thought hard about it, he was now able to identify the words when people spoken in an ordinary conversation. The sounds that came from a person's mouth hadn't changed, but he understood them differently; he was aware of the pices from which the whole was made. He himself had been speaking in words all along. He just hadn't known it until now.
As people become accustomed to their product, queries will take the place of ordinary acts of recall, and Remem will be integrated into their very thought processes. Once that happens, we will become cognitive cyborgs, effectively incapable of misremembering anything; digital video stored on error-corrected silicon will take over the role once filled by our fallible temporal lobes.
Reading a passage of text evoked so many images in Shereshevskii's mind that he often couldn't focus on what it actually said, and his awareness of innumerable specific examples made it difficult for him to understand abstract concepts. He wrote down numbers he no longer wanted to remember on slips of paper and then burned them, a kind of slash-and-burn approach to clearing out the undregrowth of his mind but to no avail.
"Forgive and forget" goes the expression, and for our idealized magnanimous selves, that is all you needed. But for our actual selves the relationship between those two actions isn't so straightforward. In most cases we have to forget a little bit before we can forgive; when we no longer expereince the pain and fresh, the insult is easier to forgive, which in turn makes it less memorable, and so on. It's this psychological feedback loop that makes initially infuriating offenses seem pardonable in the mirror of hindsight.
The issue wasn't confined to marriages; all sorts of relationships rely on forgiving and forgetting. My dauhter, NIcole, has always been strong-willed; rambunctious when she was a child, openly defiant as an adolescent. She and I had many furious arguments during her teen years, arguments that we have mostly been able to put behind us, and now our relationship is pretty good. If we'd had Remem, would we still be speaking to each other?
Wiring was not just a way to record what someone said; it could help you decide what you would say before you said it. And words were not just the pieces of speaking; they were the pieces of thinking. When you wrote them down, you could grasp your thoughts like bricks in your hands and push them into different arrangements. Writing let you look at your thoughts in a way you couldn't if you were just talking, and having seen them, you could improve them, make them stronger and more elaborate.
Psychologists make a distinction between semantic memory - knowledge of general facts - and episodic memory, or recollection of personal experiences. We've been using technological supplements for semantic memory ever since the invention of writing: first books, then search engines. By contrast, we've historically resisted such aids when it comes to episodic memory; few people have ever kept as many diaries or photo albums as they did ordinary books. The obvious reason is conveninece; if we weanted a book on the birds of North America, we could consult one that an ornithologist has written, but if we wanted a daily diary, we had to write it for ourselves. But I also wonder if another reason is that, subconsciously, we regarded our episodic memories as cush an integral part of our identities that we were reluctant to externalize them, to relegate them to books on a shelf or files on a computer.
Imagine what will happen if childen begin using Remem to access those lifelogs: their mode of cognition will diverge from ours because the act of recall will be different. Rather than thinking of an event from her past and seeing it with her mind's eye, a child will subvocalize a reference to it and watch video footage with her physical eyes. Episodic memoery will become enteirely technologically mediated.
People are made of stories. Our memeories are not the impartial accumulation of every second we've lived; the're the narrative that we assembled out of selected moments. Which is why, even when we've expereinced the same events as other individuals, we never constructed identical narratives; the criteria used for selecting moments were different for each of us, and a relfection of our personalities. Each of us noticed the details that caught our attention and remembered what was important to use and the narratives we bult shaped our personalities in turn.
"I cannot change the things I did, but at least I can stop pretending I didn't do them. I'm going to use Remem to get an honest picture of myself, take a kind of perosnal inventory."
"But let's be clear: you don't come running to me every time you feel guilty over treating me like crap. I worked hard to put that behind me, and I'm not going to relive it just so you can feel better about yourself. "
But writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.
Before a culture adopts the use of writing, when its knowledge is transmitted exclusively through oral means, it can very easily revise its history. It's not intentional, but it is inevitable; throughout the world bards and griots have adapted their material to their audiences and thus gradually adjusted the past to suit the needs of the present. The idea that accounts of the past shouldn't change is a product of literate cultures' reverence for the written word.
Right now each of us is a private oral culture. We rewrite our pasts to suit our needs and support the story we tell about ourselves. With our memories we are all guilty of a Whig interpretation of our personal histories, seeing our former selves as steps toward our glorious present selves.
But that era is coming to an end. Remem is merely the first of a new geneartion of memory prostheses, and as these products gain widespread adoption, we will be replacing our malleable organic memories with perfect digital archives. We will have a record of what we actually did instead of stories that evolve over repeated tellings. Within our minds, each of us will be transformed from an oral culture into a literate one.
As someone whose identity was built on organic memory, I'm threatened by the prosepct of removing subjectivity from our recall of events. I used to think it could be valuable for individuals to tell storeis about themselves, valuable in a way that it couldn't be for cultures, but I'm a product of my time, and times change. We can't prevent the adoption of digital memoery any more than oral cultures could stop the arrial of literacy, so the best I can do is look for something positive in it.
Because all of us have been wrong on various occasions, engaged in cruelty and hypocrisy, and we've foregotten most of those occasions. And that means we don't really know ourselves. Organic memory was what enabled me to construct a whitewashed narrative of my parenting skills, but by using digital memory from now on, I hope to keep that from happening. The truth about my behavior won'te be presented to me by someone else, making me defensive; it won't even be something I'll discover as a private shock, prompting a reevaluation. With Remem providing only the unvarnished facts, my imgage of myself will never stray too far from the truth in the first place.
Digital meomry will not stop us from telling storeis about ourselves. As I said earlier, we are made of stories, and nothing can change that. What digital memory will do is change those storeis from favulations that emphasize our best acts and elide our worset, into ones that - I hope - acknoledge our fallibility and make us less judgemental about the falliability of others.
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