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Microsoft's Lifebrowser Is a Prosthetic For Memory 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the enhanced-interrogation-techniques dept.
holy_calamity writes "This article talks about software from Microsoft Research that looks like a smarter, more private version of Facebook's timeline. Lifebrowser uses machine learning techniques to process photos, emails, web history, documents and other data on your computer and automatically create an interactive timeline with an awareness of what's important and what's not. Lifebrowser is intended to be a prosthetic for memory. When a user searches their archive for specific information, Lifebrowser presents notable photos and other information to aid recollection."
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Microsoft's Lifebrowser Is a Prosthetic For Memory

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  • Results may vary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @01:57PM (#39390247)

    When tested in the field, unintended results may show up.
    I.e. pr0n being central to the average geek's computer life.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sweet, now I'll never forget what kind of porn I like.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bob.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...you insensitive clod!

  • A good start... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:50PM (#39390493)

    ...but I'm waiting for the real memory prosthetic, the one that integrates with my hippocampus.

    I've probably got another thirty or forty years before it becomes a serious issue, but I'd like to think I'll have that option when I need it.

    • by chromas (1085949) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @02:55PM (#39390519)
      They were working on such a project but then they forgot about it.
    • People already use search engines as a de facto memory prosthetic. Don't remember X, Y or Z? Just whip out your smartphone and look it up.

    • by mhajicek (1582795)
      A working prototype of that was made and integrated with a mouse not too long ago. Don't have a link handy though.
    • by stevedog (1867864)
      I'm not sure I want them to invent that. I can certainly see what would appear to be the utility of it, but most of the more insidious aspects of the dementiae come from degeneration in other areas (esp prefrontal, nigrostriatal, or broader (nonhippocampal) temporal areas). The loss of memory, while upsetting, really only serves as the harbinger (for some like Alzheimer's and frontotemporal dementia, anyway; for others like Parkinson's it comes after some of the other effects have already set in).

      Once you
      • I'm not sure I want them to invent that. I can certainly see what would appear to be the utility of it, but most of the more insidious aspects of the dementiae come from degeneration in other areas (esp prefrontal, nigrostriatal, or broader (nonhippocampal) temporal areas). The loss of memory, while upsetting, really only serves as the harbinger (for some like Alzheimer's and frontotemporal dementia, anyway; for others like Parkinson's it comes after some of the other effects have already set in).

        I can't help feeling, though, that the interface between short- and long-term memory is really where I happen. If that can be tapped, it can be preserved, restored, and eventually augmented.

        Once you consider that, you have to start wondering whether the ability to surgically (or even intravenously, once nanobots advance a bit further) inject memories into others might have more risks than benefits...

        There's plenty of opportunity for intentional or unintentional evildoing. But you really don't need an invasive (in the surgical sense) interface for that.

  • I left a post on the Microsoft blog entry asking about this possibility, and any safeguards which they plan to put in place to prevent anyone from getting the data on your computer.
    • Huh? The data is already on your computer. So something that analyzed it doesn't really present much of an additional risk.
  • the definition of "more private".
  • It appears you have suffered amnesia. Can I give you a hand by wiping your data and starting a fresh template? The MS website has hundreds of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All my everything. All of it. Right here in this convenient little package, conveniently organized and user-friendly, ready to be hooked directly into any "social networking" or user account profile I may so desire.

    Luckily it's all on my computer so no one can data-mine it or just outright steal my identity. ...

  • "He who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past"

    I don't want MS, Facebook or Google to control me. They are not the robotic overlords I am looking for.
    • "I don't want MS, Facebook or Google to control me. They are not the robotic overlords I am looking for."

      Nobody is forcing you use any of these services and learn how to "Control" yourself.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is an interesting application of ML, but...

    If you use this thing, the data on your PC may be subpoenaed if you or your loved ones are targetted in a lawsuit, or confiscated in a police raid. That machine-generated opinion about what's important to you will then be used against you.

    If you are (wrongly or rightly) accused of a crime, the data on your PC may be confiscated, and run through this software by the police. The police, using Joe Average's belief in "the infallability of the machine", will use

  • Yes, a great prosthetic for memory. It helps the CIA/NSA/IRS/FSB not forget important details.
  • I aways wondered if there was somehow a correlation between brain damage and being a Microsoft customer.

    Mind you, I'm not saying "all Microsoft customers are brain amputees". But maybe, just maybe it is that

    • Microsoft products have a special appeal to people with pre-existing brain damage
    • Microsoft products may cause brain damage in previosuly healthy people

    Oh wait, i have been using Microsoft products in the past ...

  • by knorthern knight (513660) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:47PM (#39392599)

    Showing my age (a bit over 60). When I was a kid, we had these things called "diaries". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary [wikipedia.org] Some people would use archaic instruments called "pens" to record what they did every day in a diary (a book with blank pages). What MS is proposing is a digital diary.

    One thing I never understood... every so often, I'd hear on the radio about somebody who had been charged/convicted of robbery/rape/whatever. And one of the key pieces of evidence would be their personal diary, which police had seized. The diarists actually recorded on paper that they had committed the crime. That is beyond dumb. And I never heard of any of the defendants claiming that the police had forged the diary.

    Fast-forward to 2011, and some people are being busted for crimes, thanks to self-incriminating postings on Facebook. If Microsoft's idea ever gets past the vapourware stage, expect police to have fun searching through people's personal digital diaries. No doubt some people will be stupid enough to put incriminating posts in their digital diaries.

    • by beep54 (1844432)
      Didn't I just read somewhere that they are building in Utah from which they they either can or will be able to track any digital data from anywhere in the world? And, yes your landlines are also included in this data grab. I swear, it has gotten to the point where all normal news now reads like the Onion.
    • Well obviously you want to commit murder in private browsing mode.
    • So this "diary" is like a blog, only printed out on paper?
  • When I first read the headline a read "A Prosthetic for Money". Sounded just like Microsoft

  • by wamatt (782485) * on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:09PM (#39392887)

    It will most likely sit in the basement, along with other cool MSR tech, that mostly never see buy-in from MS Product teams.

    Pity really. Innovation is not something you put in a department and leave it to one side. It needs to be in the fabric of the organization. Apple has been a good example of this.

    • by Pausanias (681077)

      Actually MSR is a place which buys really smart CS/Unix people, like Leslie Lamport, who wrote LaTeX, to get them to work on obscure useless shit so that they don't keep on working on stuff that's actually useful to F/OSS.

      • by wamatt (782485) *

        That's interesting. Do you have any objective evidence MS do this just to hurt F/OSS?

        Not saying I don't believe you, just want to read more.

  • If it's done right, this is a really good idea. I love being able to search Firefox by keyword for a web page I looked at last week. And I like to go back and re-read comments that I've posted to various social networks. But it sounds a little ambitious from a usability standpoint. For example, it can't have an understanding of the layout of every web site, and I wouldn't want it to index the contents every page I look at, in the hopes that it might be important.
  • Now a project from Microsoft Research is trying to bring that kind of data mining back home to help people explore their own piles of personal digital data.

    i would say their intent is dubious but i already know MS is run by rat bastards, so it's just going to be used against us.

  • More Private than Facebook!?!

    How about more stable than Windows.95
    Better multiprocessing than DOS.
    Better mileage than a Hummer.
    More than Less than and excess of
  • In a way, I kind of like the idea of recording everything I say and do in a comprehensive way, stored in a big database for later retrieval. However, three problems jump out at me.

    First and most importantly, if the data exists, it's only a matter of time before someone forces you to share it. The police will get ahold of it, or Microsoft will have the Windows 9 ToS include a passage that gives them rights to mine the data. Maybe Facebook will have a super fun game that can only be played if you give them

  • Maybe I was being too conservative in my timeframe when I posted this nine-ten years ago: http://longbets.org/16/ [longbets.org]
  • Most users have set up their own version of this :
    - their email client is their chronological filing cabinet. The user can sort, file , flag and archive their historical records. The email client is a database of personal records where the user has meaningful control. And they like it!

    Twenty years ago Gelernter proposed "lifestreams" where your entire set of data, assets and transactions would be available to you from any network node at all times.

    What kind of actions/ transactions are the most immediately

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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