Friday, April 18, 2008

Loftus- Memories Future

I read the article on the future of memories. It starts off with talking about how our memories can be changed through time and that technology effects everything else, could it affect our memories? They compare the human memory to that of a computer chip: "WC: You might think that computer memory would be a useful analogy for how human memory works. And, to some extent, it is. At first, human memory seems to be a lot like the computer's three versions: type-ahead buffer, RAM and hard disk. We, too, have a sensory buffer called immediate memory, usually seen as a ghostly image of a flashbulb, rather like the keyboard's type-ahead buffer. And we also have working memory, part of which is a short-term memory store much like the computer's RAM. It is also as volatile, because its contents can be lost following a concussion or seizure. The "consolidation" of episodic human memories is a lot like transferring files from RAM to a new file on the hard disk. In humans, the process takes days or weeks to complete, most likely because you have to strengthen synapses into a new pattern.
EL: Unfortunately, the analogy ends there. And, as the adage says, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
WC: The big difference is that the human brain has no pigeonholes for data, like RAM. Human memory is cluttered. Memories don't get lost so much as they become distorted or hard to find. We may like to say that we've lost something -- but often, an hour later, it pops uninvited into our consciousness, where it has been lurking all along. The serious difference between computer and human memory is that we don't pop out a pristine copy of the original event, the way a computer does. Instead, we reconstruct things as best we can from all the clutter. We guess. Often that isn't good enough, especially for a fair judicial process. Or just one's self respect, it's embarrassing to be badly wrong and we'll deny an error even to ourselves."

Throughout the article, they talk about webcams and how easily it should be to verify eye witness testimonies. I find it interesting that in 2008, we still haven't put too many cameras around. I'd rather be safe in a busy place like union square than have something bad happen and not have eye witness accounts matter. Let me know what you think, I put the link to the article in the title.

1 comment:

JAKE said...

Eyewitness accounts are very tricky. But also, as I read in the article that I had posted, the victims also mis-identify people, as in where a woman picked a man out of a lineup who she thought was her rapist. After spending years in prison, he was finally freed after DNA testing proved him to be innocent. I guess its just somehow hard for us to imagine someone witnessing a crime and being wrong on what they saw. And when theyre proven wrong, theyre pretty much in shock like, "I can't believe it... i could swear this was what happened..." And its really not their fault. They probably really think thats what they saw.