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How to erase memory in virtual world?

It is not surprising, that questions about how should we make information on internet forgotten, is immediately connected to a technical solution: to erase data. Oh, dear simplicity! Such Mr. or Ms. Simplicity still thinks that human body logic follows computer technology logic. Technocrats on all levels believe that deleting a data on a computer, cloud or web would delete information and memory. Since computers have memory, they think, erasing a data erase a memory at the same time. EU following such mechanistic view puts a lot of effort and funds into legislation that would regulate data removal. Wrong way to tackle the problem from the very beginning. If the problem exists at all.

If you have wrong idea about properties of the subject you are trying to regulate or change, then you most probably chose wrong tools working on.

First, we have to stress again, that human memory (for the sake of simplicity we use this world…) is not stored in brains, but is an emergent property of a human body as whole. Richard Dawkins extended phenotype further proved us that the body does not end where our fingertips end. We (as individuals) than should take all extended phenotypes like iMachines and computers as in fact parts of our phenotype in such a way, that we locate our memory not only in our legs but in machines that we use as much as in our brains.

Second, we have to make clear that memories are not stored in our brains or our bodies like digital bytes (data) are stored in computer chips. Human memory is an emergent property of biological (material) complexity. It comes out of a body, while in computers data is stored in. There is a similarity though between us and computers. We both store data but only humans are able to create information and memory as emergent properties in the form of a mind.

There is another peculiarity to be found in human mind. Human mind already has both time-space dimension and quantum dimension. (Recent studies clearly show that certain if not all animals share mind properties with us, humans). Mind follows both analogue Einstein laws of relativity and has quantum entanglement properties of particles world. It might happen that quantum computing is going to push computing closer to how human mind is “being operated”, but I seriously doubt for the reason of improbability that computers could co-evolve their own extended phenotypes.

Fourth we have to understand that there is no god, that would govern or administer or observe or… biological realm. There is no one that can or could log on a global biological tissue and administer properties of this tissue like computer administrator can do within computer tissue. One could in fact erase part of a digital realm like surgeon can cut of a part of our physical body (including brains), but such act would only partly reshuffle biological or digital tissue, but would not erase memory in neither of them two.

With the last sentence, I claimed that there is digital/virtual memory that is an emergent property of digital data realm represented by totality of all chips connected via internet into global network. This is also a necessary conclusion from an extended phenotype point of view.

And that is exactly an argument against an illusion that one could manipulate with the memory in virtual/digital world. You can erase a compromising picture (data) on Facebook, but that does not affect much global virtual memory. You can erase a person standing beside Stalin on a photo, but you cannot erase zillions of memories around that photo. Stalin actually erased many photos like that, but he failed to erase memory. Why? Because he undermined the laws of complexity. If someone makes a mistake in a non-virtual (off-line) world, like behaving bad in a bar with 20 people observing him, this must or should affect his ability to get a job as much as if he posts a picture of that moment on Facebook. In first case, even data cannot be erased, but in both cases memory persists since memory is highly decentralised entity that fades our only with time.

That one could manipulate memory/mind with manipulation of data is costly illusion.

Andrej Drapal

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