Human Memory More Like Clockwerk Memory Than Previously Thought

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As you may have guessed, given the titles, these articles are not for the faint of heart. Not a subscriber? Luckily, the summaries, available here and here, are free as the wind. Unluckily, they’re even more daunting than you could possibly imagine. Need proof? Here’s an excerpt from one of the summaries:

We show that a dynamic interplay within the macaque frontoparietal network accounts for the rhythmic properties of spatial attention. Neural oscillations characterize functional interactions between the frontal eye fields (FEF) and the lateral intraparietal area (LIP), with theta phase (3–8 Hz) coordinating two rhythmically alternating states.

What the heck was that, right? I’m afraid the problem here is what’s called sesquipedalian prose—that’s an unfortunate side effect of what happens when scientists attempt to talk to each other in public. But we’re going to give them a pass, because where would we be without scientists? We’d be in a world lit by fire, that’s where: Imagine a world without YouTube videos, without iPhones—without steam-powered tarantula cabs! How would people in the Steamwerks burg get to work? Or . . . werk?

Okay, so what’s this sesquipedalian prose, you ask? The prose part is easy—that’s just a fancy way of saying writing. Sesquipedalian is a little harder. It comes from the Latin word sesquipedalis, which means, literally, a foot and a half long. And Latin, in case you’re wondering, is a mostly dead, mostly moldy language that’s still occasionally mined by our friends the scientists for making up new words that are just as difficult to digest as the original Latin, but I digress.

Now, back to those articles. What they’re saying is that human consciousness only focuses on small samples taken from everything we see. For example, if you were looking a big, beautiful garden, full of thousands of plants and petals and leaves, you might notice only the bee over there that just started flying your way.

That’s exactly how Clockwerks view the world! Especially older Clockwerks. After all, the older the Clockwerk, the less complex the BrainBox. That means fewer rpm, less processing power, less memory—less everything, really.

But why take my word for it? Here’s Tiffany Widderchine explaining to Willa Snap how Clockwerks reduce the need for massive memory storage by sampling only a portion of what they see. I’ll spare you Tiffany’s reversed DLP projector analogy by starting right after Willa gets it:

“Einstein’s hair! I see it! But wouldn’t recording all those bits of light need tons of memory? I thought Clockwerks didn’t have much in the way of storage.”
“That’s true, a Clockwerk’s eyes do generate a lot of information, but the Clockwerk doesn’t have to save all of it to see where it’s going or remember where it’s been. And when it does decide to save something, it only needs to take a little snapshot. Think about it. We’re not all that different. Nobody remembers EVERYTHING they see.”

And there you have it, right from the heir apparent to the great Thiphania Widderchine, who, as everyone who’s anyone knows, was born in 1161 CE and abducted in 1203 by the Black Fez for building a highly dangerous thinking barn. Safely stowed in Grandeur, Thiphania built the very first sentient compact BrainBox, powered by her son’s #3 mainspring and housed in Torsicus Widderchine, one of the first bipedal sentient Clockwerks with free will.