IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Personhood > Vision > Virtuality > Staff > PrivacySurveillance > Enablement > Mike Treder
Life-recording: Are you game?
Mike Treder   Oct 16, 2009   Ethical Technology  

Assuming the technology was robust, reliable, non-intrusive, and affordable—would you want to record your whole life?

A camera you can wear as a pendant to record every moment of your life will soon be launched by a UK-based firm.

Originally invented to help jog the memories of people with Alzheimer’s disease, it might one day be used by consumers to create “lifelogs” that archive their entire lives.

That’s from a short article in NewScientist magazine. Here’s more:

Worn on a cord around the neck, the camera takes pictures automatically as often as once every 30 seconds. It also uses an accelerometer and light sensors to snap an image when a person enters a new environment, and an infrared sensor to take one when it detects the body heat of a person in front of the wearer. It can fit 30,000 images onto its 1-gigabyte memory.

The ViconRevue was originally developed as the SenseCam by Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK, for researchers studying Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Studies showed that reviewing the events of the day using SenseCam photos could help some people improve long-term recall.

Later generations of this technology almost certainly will allow both audio and video recording in addition to still photos. Someday, even, it might be possible to create recordings that will play back in a virtual reality environment, enabling the user to essentially re-experience complete scenes from earlier in life.

Besides its obvious value in aiding victims of memory loss, something like this potentially could be used for gathering data to be used in re-creating a personality embedded in silicon, if that should ever prove viable.

So, are you ready to try it? Would you like to have a visual record of everything you see and do?

When a similar question was put to the readers of the TechCrunch website, here is how they responded:

Now, we’re asking IEET readers to tell us what they think. Please refer to the poll in the sidebar and give us your opinion. Thanks, and “see you” in the future!

Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.


Assuming the media it’s recording to is encrypted, why the hell not?

//Assuming the technology was robust, reliable, non-intrusive, and affordable//

You forgot ‘legal’. How many more places will want make it illegal to record experiences other than the theatres, museums, public buildings, private homes, government installations, etc. that already want to do so?

I think it’s an exciting technology, and would personally like to use it, at least occasionally or for special events or places, especially if it becomes so miniaturized that it’s not necessarily recognizable as a recorder.
But there are some aspects regarding personal freedom that I haven’t seen mentioned that often. I would mention especially the ability of parents tracking what their kids do while they’re not under their supervision. While some parents would have enough sense to respect their privacy, other do have a compulsion to monitor everything. Or perhaps a jealous spouse would want to see what you were up to during your day. Maybe even people on parole would have to wear such devices and turn in their records to their probation officer.
I do realize that the content of such recorders could also be edited by the wearer, or they could have someone else wear the recorder as a proxy, but still…
I’m not saying that that’s a reason to block the development of such technologies, but we should also consider possible negative social implications. 
I also hope Steve Mann and other pioneers of life recording get some mention from those currently developing these technologies.

> “Would you like to have a visual record of everything you see and do?”

Maybe I’d turn the camera around, attach it to a pole, and aim it at me. Boy, that would stop me from doing lots of things I shouldn’t be doing.

I’m sure there are lots of very vain ego’s out there that would immediately jump at the chance to record their life stories and then watch the never ending re-runs.

Can’t really see the benefit with folks suffering memory problems or worse, would they really be interested in this gizmo?.... would they remember to even wear it?

Just another example of high? tech used for the most trivial purposes, and another excuse to sell you something you don’t really need.

“Can’t really see the benefit with folks suffering memory problems or worse, would they really be interested in this gizmo?.... would they remember to even wear it?”

There are many different types of memory problems. I can see folks with /certain/ memory problems using this device to their advantage—especially if they have a loved one who will help them out with it (a detail that might not have entered Cygnus’ mind.)

Oh, but Cygnus, I actually mostly agree with your “don’t really need” statement.

I once saw a very violent video on the Net, one I wish I could expunge from my memory. I would want to be able to expunge that scene from the device as well!

I wonder how many crunch readers responded out of a knee jerk reaction to the idea of their privacy being infringed, when really they’d be obviating everyone else’s privacy. Everything and everyone would be captured in this device, except themselves. If we reminded them of that obvious fact and asked again, I wonder if the outcome would materially change? wink

I have been doing liferecording for the last 8 months. I think that I could not go back to not doing it. So many times I can go back to important information that I may have missed the first time. Also, I can actually remember funny things my kids have said.

The hardest part of liferecording is _managing_ the data. I have found having a simple button on the device which acts as a ‘remember that’ is easiest.

That being said, I have open sourced my project. It can be freely downloaded here, for any that are interested:

YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Does Super-High IQ = Super-Low Common Sense?

Previous entry: Riding the Wave: Rethinking Science & Technology Policy