memory prosthesis
(mem.uh.ree praws.THEE.sus; TH as in thin) n. A device that helps or enables a person to remember things.

Example Citation:
Sunil Vemuri, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, is hoping to fill in the holes left by our sometimes fickle minds. How? "Our focus," he says, "is on audio recording everything in our lives."

Vemuri has spent much of the last year and a half strapped to a microphone and PDA, which picks up every word he utters to friends, colleagues and family and beams the information wirelessly to a server. Voice-recognition software converts the spoken word into text and delivers it to his laptop, where it is cataloged along with hourly weather reports, screen grabs, Internet news sites, his e-mail, every item on his daily calendar and—via a Global Positioning System chip in his PDA—his whereabouts in the lab building. Later, when Vemuri is trying to remember something, he finds the passage in any number of ways. He might do a keyword search or look up a particular date. ...

"Some people work in environments where they're given a lot of information, a lot of to-do lists," he says. "But because of the hectic nature of their jobs, they have an inability to write down notes in a timely fashion. A memory prosthesis would allow them to record it and then, later on, have the ability to retrieve it."
—Anna Kuchment, "Truly Total Recall," Newsweek, June 30, 2003

Earliest Citation:
Almost everything you do today will be forgotten in just a few weeks. The ability to retrieve a memory decays exponentially, and after only a month more than 85 per cent of our experiences will have slipped beyond reach, unless boosted by artificial aids such as diaries and photographs.

Given that our memories are our identities, this is a frightening rate of loss. But what if a machine could record our lives, keeping nearly everything that happened accessible to us? It is likely that computer technology and video cameras will continue to get cheaper over the next decade, so why not build electronic memory aids that simply record every waking moment?

At Rank Xerox's EuroParc laboratory in Cambridge, a team of 30 computer scientists, psychologists and sociologists have been working on an electronic memory prosthesis.
—John McCrone, "Don't forget your memory aide," New Scientist, February 5, 1995


If memory loss were physical, like the loss of an arm or leg, doctors might consider replacing the part that didn't work with a sort of memory prosthesis.
—Deborah Wise, "Banks for," The Guardian, May 8, 1992

Mark Worden told me about this phrase.

Related Words: