What if we all had a better memory?

This was my paper submitted for the Cognitive Science (COG100) class last week. 🙂 Read on and tweet me if you agree/disagree with the points I’ve laid out here.

There were times when I woke up and did my usual morning routine without paying much attention to the date. Sometimes these dates that I ignored were indeed the important ones, and I only recalled their significance after the moment had passed. Those were the times I wished I had a better memory. The idea of having a better memory is certainly promising – it would be much easier to remember dates, names, tasks, and many other things. Yet what kind of things about the way we live our lives would change if we ALL had a better memory?

We pass by hundreds of people, shake some hands, and communicate with others everyday and although it happens everyday, I always find it hard to identify people by their names and faces. To overcome this hurdle, I would usually stare at their faces carefully as they speak and repeat their names in my head multiple times. Yet this habit has made me pay more attention to the person more than I intended to. If I now have a better memory then I would not be put on my full attention on them and perhaps my mind would even be squandering around other unnecessary details. If everyone were to be granted this better memory then there would be less effort on trying to genuinely remember people and we would walk around an area heedlessly without being aware of the interactions we are making with each other.

If we all had a major upgrade in our memory to take account of everything, then it is most likely many things that have been complements for our brain are now excessive. Such analog and digital systems like calendars, reminders, photo albums, would be futile as there would be no good reason why one need to bring all of these accessories when we could just memorize and remember everything that were stored in there. They were designed out of necessity and now that’s necessity is gone, so will these businesses.

  With the eradications of these businesses start to prevail, can it be assumed many people will be consequently unemployed? One of the core factors that often fail people in school is their memory and how good they can retrieve the knowledge they have studied for. Perhaps our memory has subconsciously influenced our decisions on what career path we want to take on. This factor has differentiate us in personality and career aspirations and without such distinction, there would not be as much of a variation to the jobs we currently have.

A major upgrade in memory is perhaps is in everybody’s wish list as they pass through the day, wishing they would remember things more vividly. Yet after exploring on these issues – social maneuverability, the advancement and innovation in manufactured goods, and the impacts it has on the economy – the trade off become unreasonable and it’s obnoxious of us to even ask. A better memory would benefit our day-to-day tasks, yet it will fail us in the overall scheme.


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