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Conclusions on the visual memory prosthetic

Deliberate artificailly--induced flashbacks were explored as a means of assisting those (author included) suffering from a visual memory disability. Two modes of operation were presented, free-running flashbacks (requiring no input or attention from the user), and user-controlled flashbacks. The former mode of operation did not require conscious thought or effort, and is therefore truly cyborgian. The use of annotated flashbacks was also explored, in particular, through the implementation of a wearable face-recognition apparatus.

This work begins to enlarge the scope of the concept of `memory', for it is now possible to `remember' something that one never new in the first place. When I have gone shopping, my wife, coming to meet me later, might `remember' which way I went even though she was never there before. One can `remember' the name of someone one has never met before, provided that someone else has enrolled that person into a face database.

The boundaries between seeing and viewing, and between remembering and recording will crumble. When we purchase a new appliance, we will `remember' the face behind the store counter. A week later, our spouse, taking the appliance back for a refund, will `remember' the name and face of the clerk she never met.

Steve Mann
Wed Feb 14 01:19:59 EST 1996