BBC Future

60 Second Idea

Memory chip to record memories

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week, stem cell scientist Professor Chris Mason, imagines a human memory chip:

“This would give everyone the chance to have a complete collection of all their life’s memories, without any loss of detail or the distortions of time. I use the term chip loosely, as it might be made of silicon or be living cell based, but when connected to our brain it would provide instant additional memory, just like a computer memory stick. With the human memory chip, experiences could be stories and be played back perfectly, either by the original owner of the memory or cloned and directly shared with others. For example, a soldier returning from battle could actually share their memories and thus enable the full horror of war to be experienced first-hand by the people at home. Memories could also be passed on to future generations. Imagine inheriting the memory of your mother on the day you were born – a far better way to understand the past than a box of dusty old photographs. I close on a cautious note. Whilst human memory chips could have many world-changing benefits, there is also the potential for misuse. But I hope that the option for everyone to have a complete collection of their life’s memories will one day be the norm, and not just the wish of an absent-minded professor.”

You can listen to Prof Mason discuss his idea in more detail on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more sixty second ideas.

If you have a 60 second idea or would  like to comment on this story, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter