Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Fair Witness

The day started today at 4AM, then to work at 6AM and into a meeting with the new president of the division at 8. It's 2PM now and I'm a bit bleary eyed because old guys like me just don't bounce back as far as we once did. Recording that here is a way of remembering it later. Why? I dunno, days when a career shifts gears should be remembered if for no other reason than tax purposes. On the other hand, anyone who googles themself and finds out just how much they said that is recorded and cached and commented on starts quickly to wish the Web could learn to forget as well as it remembers.

How much should we remember and how much should we forget? The age old cacheing problem will be with us forever, but situationally, when should we remember for others and how will we be sure what we remember is what we experienced? The mammal brain is notorious for its distortions due to the effect of neurons linking up in incredibly complex and overlapping ways, enscribing over each other like an Arabesque in which the pattern though beautiful, is exceedingly difficult and expensive to trace. This makes law enforcement tasks difficult, really, justice tasks where one goes to court or is hauled in and two adversaries, a prosecutor and a defender attempt to prove to a judge and/or jury, the facts of the case.

Facts are hard to come by if the mammalian brain is the storage medium. Both sides know this and elaborate tactics are used to discredit witnesses. We've all seen that movie. This is exactly why police cruisers have video cameras that are turned on during a traffic stop, and the video is then attached to the traffic stop record. It saves time in court.

Many years ago, I read a sci-fi story that included the concept of The Fair Witness. These were trained observers used in future litigations to state the facts of some situation they observed. Their training enabled them to overcome the dendrite dance and recall with perfect accuracy, the facts of a case. Given that humans share signs but can't be relied upon to share interpretants, this takes a lot of training. Actually, police do train for this, but what if we could engineer a way to increase the reliability of this, that is, more effective means?

Some folks are working on it. While one wonders about the indexing and retrieval, a URI with a space-time stamp isn't a bad approach and would work with geolocator systems for integrated analysis. This could fit in nicely with data fusion systems. I'm not too sure how much of my daily life I want to be digitized, in fact, I'm sure I don't want that, but if the police have similar systems in cruisers, why not put one on the t-shirt before going to any mob event, or just to confront the neighbor about the poop their dog is leaving on the lawn? Or just a walk on the beach?

Thanks to Steve Conklin for pointing this out. Once again, the mammals are relentlessly innovative and that is why AI has such a hard time keeping up.

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