English 178, Fall 2019

FrankensteinRobocop, Big Data

English 178, Fall 2016

Frankenstein, Robocop, Big Data” is a course about memory. This FIG will consider the relative frailty of human memory in comparison to the unforgetting nature of digital storage. Humans forget; computers do not.

The course will begin by considering the relationship between memory and human identity. In many ways, we are who we are because we remember who we are day to day.

However, human memory is fragile. We forget things; we misremember events.

By contrast, any and all online activity leaves a trace that can be collected to form a version of the user. This version is not identical to the human user and yet is often a frighteningly accurate image of the user whose behaviors may be tracked and predicted.

Importantly, this digital version of the user is produced by a form of memory (or more precisely a storage of information) that does not forget. You may not remember “liking” that photo on Facebook at 3 am, but Facebook does.

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