He remembers it all

Benno may nail it, but Jacob remembers it all.

He does. 


Every little detail. 

It sometimes is startling. Like yesterday when he asked me to take him to the brownie store. “You know mom, that one we went to one day when I was in nursery.”

“Nursery?!“That was over two years ago bud. I don’t remember.” 

That didn’t deter him. He went into more detail.  He told me what I was wearing that day, where we were going, and the shape of the brownie. Annoyed that I could not remember he gave more details. He recalled who I was on the phone with and that the store started with an “F.” 

To his disappointment, these details mean nothing to me. Just one day out of hundreds of after school days. One brownie out of infinite bakeries in NYC. Not worth recording in long term storage. No chance of retrieval. 

I do not share his gift but I’m in awe of its power.

Memory is the ultimate superpower.

Isn’t that what machines have taught us? Isn’t that what AI is in the end? Endless memories that can be pulled to form patterns? Computers are able to handle thousands of inputs (memories). Retrieving data from years and places in seconds. And having those memories allows them to predict and solve. The more the memories the better the prediction. 

But not if you forgot them.

Like me. I keep forgetting. I keep having to relearn. Some lessons over and over. I’m a mere mortal, a limited human being with memories that are not only terrible, but often faulty. We were designed that way. We aren’t rote recorders, we aren’t documentarians of the truth, but rather strategic listeners. We all joke about selective listening, but the real limit is selective memory.

Selective memory has previously been an advantage. It didn’t serve us to remember it all. To use are of our limited processing power on irrelevant/ superfluous information is not helpful. Sure we remember where the poisonous berry bush is but what you wore when you discovered it has no evolutionary advantage to remember. So it’s gone. Unless that day you were teased for your animal skin loin cloth. Then bang! There it is. You may not only remember it, but perseverate on that outfit for years. Emotions plays a large role in human memory. They cast a cloud, a shadow, they color. We are anything but accurate recorders. Our superpower is making connections. That was the strategic advantage. Synthesizing information and taking leaps of thought. That was what made a human the most powerful animal on earth.

Until now. Now we have computers that can see patterns with an every growing input capacity.

But he too remembers it all.

He works just like a computer. Stockpiling memories, even insignificant ones.

He remembers all. 

He remembers it all.

And today will be no exception. 

Today is his birthday. He is six.

He will remember the shot this morning, his port being accessed and immunotherapy. He will remember turning six at the hospital.

But like the computer he is, it will be just another input. No different than the rest. He won’t associate it with negativity. He doesn’t protest the shot. He doesn’t challenge being accessed. And oddly, even with all the pain, he doesn’t cry hearing that today is an immunotherapy day. He is just storing. Storing the inputs. 

I wonder what patterns they will create later in life. What will all the inputs together create? All the memories. All of HIS memories.

While I don’t have his computational power, I do have a prediction.

It will be something remarkable. 

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