Memory and Forgiveness - I'm reminded of the book The Singularity Is Near, where author Ray Kurzweil forecasts that computers will match the processing power of the human brain by mid-century or 2050.

Kurzweil predicts we will be able to "download" skills, as represented in The Matrix. Think of that. But will it be any better than our current approach? Will we forget the skill as we do now and require multiple "downloads" to keep it up? Or is one download enough? I suppose it depends on the process of forgetting...and our process of storing information...So many questions.

Why do we forget? I think it has to do with the fact our consciousness can only focus on one (or at most seven) things at a time. Some theories suggest we have an unconscious mind that operates out of our awareness as it processes information (whatever that means). Intriguing ideas, questions, challenges.

Forgiveness and Memory

One impact of an imperfect memory is forgiveness. I was in Church some time ago (I'm not a churchgoer, religious, or Christian by normal definitions, but that's another story), and the homily was about forgiveness. Christ could forgive and heal. The priest asserted that we can, too. I know he's right. We can forgive. One of the most profound experiences of my life was during high school. I was at religious retreat, and we took part in a reconciliation exercise. In that exercise, we were asked to think about people present in the exercise who we had "wronged." We were then encouraged to ask each person we had wronged for their forgiveness.

So, face-to-face, I told each person my "sin" against them, and asked for their forgiveness. What a humbling, profound experience. Talk about being healed and transformed. True forgiveness has enormous power.

What is forgiveness?

Forgive and forget. Is that true forgiveness? Forgive and never forget...Not so true. Is the "forgive and remember" form of forgiveness incomplete or not genuine? Is it even really forgiveness? Seems way too simplistic.

I think you can truly forgive and remember, but it's how you remember that matters. If remembering brings up the anger, disappointment and the feelings you had before forgiving, then, it's not true forgiveness. If remembering brings up new feelings, positive feelings, then I'd say forgiveness is more complete. Forgive and forget doesn't quite make it because it's like sticking your head in the ground -- don't ask, don't tell.

The meanings and feelings of the memory need to be transformed in true forgiveness.


Another value of selective, imperfect memory is it provides the capacity for focus. Or perhaps that's what consciousness does. It allows us to forget for the moment the multitude and pay attention to the one (or seven?).

Consciousness...What is it? How does it relate to memory? Consciousness seems to be about selecting a point of focus. Is "forgetting" all about focus? We could not do anything if we "remembered" everything all the time. Is consciousness or focus comparable to what RAM is in a computer? RAM memory is the computer's focus.

Will RAM be the key to a computer's consciousness?

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
The Ultimate Matrix Collection