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Edward Vielmetti

Alex -

Three things come to mind when computers try to forget.

There's the notion of "garbage collection", when unwanted memory is reclaimed. That process relies on a way of marking unwanted (computer) memory as forgettable.

Computers also have the notion and defect of a "memory leak", where unwanted memory accumulates in a state where it's taking up space but not really doing anything.

When memory does go bad in a computer world, it's "bitrot" - think about old tapes that have glitch errors, or more importantly old computer programs that have a hard time digesting new formats of data.

The worrisome aspect of computer memory is its binary nature, where a single transient glitch can render mass storage unreadable, and so rather than the healthy forgetting of the human brain you get sudden unrecoverable failure.

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About Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

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