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 -
Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...
IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.
Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.
Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.
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.
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'
Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories