19 Outsourcing Memory
Socrates famously worried that the invention of writing would lead to the destruction of our memory — that we would become less rigorous in what we are able to remember as individuals, and as a society. And to an extent, he was right. But the trade-off humans got from being able to record thoughts and access them later became the new baseline for modern civilization: literacy. In the 21st century, we have the technology to record and re-access every single audio-visual moment of our lives. And many of us do. This helps us remember things our limited human brains would probably forget. But we are increasingly putting our memories — patchwork paintings of our entire lives and identities — onto the servers of tech companies who seek to monetize our very personhood. Is this trade-off worth it? And with every nuance recorded and documented, what happens when you can never forget?