Immortal Computing - Microsoft's 'House Records'
Immortal Computing is a Microsoft project to explore how digital information could be collected and preserved in such a way that future generations could easily access it.
A newly surfaced patent application has revealed Microsoft's interest in the idea. Most people who have owned personal computers are familiar with the basics of the problem. I have a box full of disks that I once used on a 128K Mac - and some more that I used with an Apple II+. I have no idea what is on those disks - I can't read them with my current computers. I have phonograph records in my house - but I can't play them. I think I might have some old Beta format video tapes - I can't play those either.
Companies have a version of this problem that is even worse. Just think of the variety of technologies used to store information: punch cards, punch tape, magnetic tape (of various formats) floppy disks and many more. The current pace of change makes this problem even more difficult; legacy systems are created every few years these days.
The Immortal Computing idea is to create some sort of system that would ensure that digital information could be saved in a readable, usable way for future generations. Companies certainly need this; it's possible that our civilization could use it, too. We might need some sort of "Rosetta Stone" to ensure that future generations could read and use the information and software we have now.
There is already some prior art on this problem. Bob Kahn, one of the original designers of the ARPANet, has created an online system called the Handle System. It assigns unique identifiers (rather than URLs) to find online information even if it has been moved.
Another approach is the Rosetta Project, an ambitious attempt to build a publicly accessible online archive of all documented human languages. At present, the archive contains 100,000 pages on 2,500 languages.
There is an interesting science fiction precursor as well. Frank Herbert wrote about this problem in an original way in his 1984 novel Heretics of Dune. In the novel, the Bene Gesserit is a secret society that kept records going back thousands of years.
The holoprojector flickered with its continuing production above the table top - more bits and pieces that she had summoned.
Taraza rather distrusted Archivists, which she knew was an ambivalent attitude because she recognized the underlying necessity for data. But Chapter House Records could only be viewed as a jungle of of abbreviations, special notations, coded insertions, and footnotes. Such material often required a Mentat for translation or, what was worse in times of extreme fatigue demanded that she delve into Other Memories. ...You could never consult Archival Records in a straightforward manner. Much of the interpretation that emerged from that source had to be accepted on the word of the ones who brought it or (hateful!) you had to rely on the mechanical search by the holosystem.
(Read more about Frank Herbert's house records)
Read more at Microsoft seeks patent on 'immortal computing' via Pasta and Vinegar.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/28/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.
Loihi Chip Mimics Human Brain's Neurons And Synapses
'You can hook a Thorsen tube into a control circuit... and the tube will "remember" what was done and can direct the operation...' - Robert Heinlein, 1956.
Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Fascinating! or thoughts to that effect.
Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.' - Cordwainer Smith, 1962.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'
Subsurface Martian Ice Slabs Piece Of Cake For Miners
'One shy little fellow with bloodshot eyes of old-time drillman stood up. 'I'm an ice miner,' he said.'
LG Rollable Version Of Niven's Poster TV
'A television that unrolled like a poster.'
Multi-Robot Farming On Highly Sloped Land
High Plains, indeed.
Aeolus Robot Brings Jetson's Rosie Closer
Domestic duties, robotically performed.
Sony's New, Cuter Aibo Robot Puppy
Engineered to be adorable.
Earth-1 Transformer Gundam Car
Is it a Gundam? Or maybe a Transformer.
Self-Driving Domino's Pizza Car
Yes, but can it negotiate entry at your Burbclave?
I Want Massive Space Freighters!
Ah, the space freighters of old.
When Will The Feds Ban Human Drivers?
'The first laws came out forcing the old machines off the highways...'
Our World Formed In A Bubble?
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'
Will You Live To See EM Pulse Scattering By Ships Nearing Light Speed?
'...half a million kilometers away, the Stardrive went on.'
Jabil Integrated Textile Heart Monitoring
'Della's first present was an imipolex sweatshirt called a heartshirt…'
Made In Space To Manufacture Optical Fiber In Orbit
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.
Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories