Thursday, December 14, 2006

Computers the Size of Sugar Cubes Could Record Entire Life in Two Decades

A device the size of a sugar cube will be able to record and store high resolution video footage of every second of a human life within two decades, experts said yesterday.

Researchers said governments and societies must urgently debate the implications of the huge increases in computing power and the growing mass of information being collected on individuals.
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Some fear that the advent of "human black boxes" combined with the extension of medical, financial and other digital records will lead to loss of privacy and a dramatic expansion of the nanny state.

Others highlight positive advances in medicine, education, crime prevention and the way history will be recorded.

Leading computer scientists, psychologists and neuroscientists gathered to debate these issues at Memories for Life, a conference held at the British Library yesterday.

Prof Nigel Shadbolt, president of the British Computer Society and professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Southampton, said: "In 20 years' time it will be possible to record high quality digital video of an entire lifetime of human memories. It's not a question of whether it will happen; it's already happening."

Cliff Lynch, director of the US think tank Coalition for Networked Information, said the changes could lead to a dramatic extension of state interference.

"Imagine having a personal companion that whines at you three times a day, telling you that you are eating the wrong things and that you spent more than you earned today. The scary thing is it might be foisted on us."

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