Grand challenge memories for life
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Grand Challenge: Memories for Life. Nigel Shadbolt and Wendy Hall The University of Southampton. And Where is Wendy Hall?. Structure. What is a Grand Challenge? History of the M4L GC The phenomena of memory The science of memory The technology of memory Application Opportunities Issues

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Grand challenge memories for life

Grand Challenge: Memories for Life

Nigel Shadbolt and Wendy Hall

The University of Southampton


  • What is a Grand Challenge?

  • History of the M4L GC

  • The phenomena of memory

  • The science of memory

  • The technology of memory

  • Application Opportunities

  • Issues

    • Ethical

    • Funding

    • Collaboration

What is a grand challenge
What is a Grand Challenge?

  • Revolutionary shift in thinking or practice

  • Enthusiastic support from scientific communities

  • Appeals to the public imagination

  • A clear criterion for success or failure

  • Long term benefits to science, industry, society

  • International scope

  • Interdisciplinary, collaborative research

  • Examplars…

Grand challenges
Grand Challenges

  • Put a man on the moon within a decade

  • Map the human genome

  • Build a computer to beat the world chess champion

Memories for life grand challenge
Memories for Life Grand Challenge

  • Part of the UKCRC/EPSRC sponsored Grand Challenges for Computer Science Research – November 2002 Workshop

  • Surfaced as a topic again during the Foresight Cognitive Systems Workshops

  • Submitted a proposal to hold a planning event to Foresight – held London mid August

  • Why the interest?

Memories are compelling
Memories are Compelling

  • We are quite literally our memories

  • They are both personal and social

  • They exist in all modalities

  • Pervasive and central in all walks of life

  • What is your first memory?

  • Do you remember you first day at school?

  • Do you remember the first time you hurt your sibling?

  • Are they real or constructed?

  • Are they lost, diminished or overlaid?

Memories shared and private
Memories: Shared and Private

  • Certain events as memories evoke time and place with exquisite clarity

The scale of evocation
The scale of evocation

  • Some are global flash bulb memories others are national and many are personal

The science of memory
The Science of Memory

  • Memory – recognition of multiple systems

  • Working and Short Term Memory

    • Multi–component; e.g auditory/verbal STM, visual/spatial LTM

  • Long Term Memory

    • Episodic When did you last ride a bicycle?

    • Semantic What is a bicycle?

    • Procedural How do you ride a bicycle?

    • Recognition Is this a bicycle?

    • Value Phobic to bicycles?

The psychology of memory exemplar differences

Episodic Memory:

Reference is to oneself

Organised temporally

Events remembered “consciously”

Susceptible to forgetting

Context dependent

Semantic Memory:

Reference is with respect to general knowledge

Not organised temporally

Events are “known”

Relatively permanent

Context independent

The Psychology of Memory: Exemplar Differences

Memories and plasticity
Memories and Plasticity

  • Neurons send out axons to synapse with targets

  • Once established targets supply neurotrophic (NT) factors

  • These factors are essential to the continued survival of innervating neurons

  • If a neuron receives too little factor it dies

  • Target innervation and neuronal elimination are adaptive mechanisms

Model of plasticity
Model of Plasticity

Applied in silico to development of a variety of cortical maps

Assumption – time average uptake of NTF by i from x

determines the number of synapses projected by i to x

T. Elliott and N.R. Shadbolt. Developmental robotics: Manifesto and application." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series A. In the press.

Memories for life the dix measure
Memories for Life: The Dix Measure

  • 70 years ~ 25,550 days, 613,00 hours, 2.2x109 secs

  • 100 kbits/sec for audio/video

  • 27.5 terabytes for a life

  • 343 80 gigabyte hard drives

  • 2 years ~ 60 million seconds of data ~ 6 hard drives

  • 2073 storage capacity could have doubled 47 times

  • Capacities could have increased 12 orders of magnitude

  • Your life on a grain of sand!

Memories for life the hardware
Memories for Life: The Hardware

  • Fujitsu - .8 inch 80 gigabyte hard drive

  • Video cameras

  • Video transmitter

  • Complete PC

  • Other modalities e.g smell

Memories for life the computer science
Memories for Life: The Computer Science

  • Database Systems

  • Security

  • Operating Systems and Versioning,

  • Persistence of format, re-represenations

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Human Computer Interaction

  • Visualisation and Virtual Reality

Memories for life and information overload
Memories for Life and Information Overload

We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge

Infosmog: The condition of having too much information to be able to take effective action or make an informed decision

The deluge of data is overwhelming




Automatic annotation
Automatic Annotation

  • Associating meta-data with content

  • Large-scale annotation of natural language texts, images, streaming media

Narrative generation
Narrative Generation

  • Using NLP, structure generating and linking techniques to build narratives

Associative linking
Associative Linking

  • Supporting multiple context or associative indexes into content

Web and grid services
Web and Grid Services

  • Seamless access to computationally intensive services – image registration, annotation, classification…

The perfect storm
The Perfect Storm

  • Convergence of at least three disciplines

    • Neuroscience and psychology

    • Device engineering

    • Computer Science

  • Potential to create a truly remarkable range of applications

Memories for life application contexts
Memories for Life: Application Contexts

  • Multimedia Searching

  • Large Scale Experience Repositories

    • (e.g Big Brother, early child interactions….)

  • Continuous health record

  • Stories from a Life

  • Intelligent Mathematics Tutor

  • Memory support in Elder Care

  • Virtual Memories

Lest we forget
Lest we forget

  • The the nature and role of forgetting in natural and artificial systems

  • The desirability of post-mortem memories

  • The way in which these memory prostheses and the externalisation of memory will change social practice

  • Memory is a social and cultural construct

Other efforts
Other efforts

Ethical issues
Ethical Issues

  • Ethical

    • Privacy

    • Trust

Future events
Future Events

  • M4L London August 20th

  • IAC Bristol

  • Follow up workshop primarily life science based CS early 2004

  • Primarily CS workshop at March BCS Grand Challenges in Computing 04 Newcastle

  • End of 2004 CS and Life Science International Workshop


  • This is a compelling Grand Challenge

  • We have enthusiastic engagement of researchers and Learned Societies - BCS/IEE/BNA/EPS

  • Like to seek RCUK funding for network support

  • Support for large scale experience repositories

  • All communities stand to gain

    • Common problem space – fundamental science etc

    • Richness/availability of data, technology and methods will support/mediate interaction

  • Ethical and social issues must be considered