Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution will Change Everything


December 10, 2009


Jim Gemmell and Gordon Bell


Microsoft Research


What if you never had to forget anything? Trends in storage, sensing and computing will bring about an e-memory revolution in the next 10 years that will enable you to record as much of your life as want, in previously unimaginable detail. Everything you see and hear, every step you take, every heartbeat, all of it could be captured digitally. You could have Total Recall. Total Recall will revolutionize our health, our learning, and our productivity. It will change the story we pass on to posterity, taking us to a level of “digital immortality.” The consequences to society will be profound: some good and some bad. But good or bad, our experience with the MyLifeBits research project and the CARPE research community has convinced us that the e-memory revolution is inevitable.


Jim Gemmell and Gordon Bell

Jim Gemmell is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research, currently working on the next generation of search. Previously, Jim’s research focus was MyLifeBits, part of the CARPE research community, whose first and second workshops he was proud to chair. Jim has also done research on the topics of personal media management/enhancement, telepresence, and reliable multicast. His research has led to features in Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and He lives in the San Francisco Bay area. For more about Jim, see his web page.

Gordon Bell has been a principal researcher at Microsoft Research since 1995. He is the former vice president of R&D at Digital Equipment Corporation; professor at Carnegie-Mellon University; founding assistant director of the National Science Foundation’s CISE Directorate;; advisor/investor to 100+ High Tech start-up companies (1983- ); and a founding trustee of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. He has written several books about computer architecture and High Tech Ventures. Gordon created ACM’s Gordon Bell Prize in 1987 to acknowledge and reward progress in parallel processing. He is a fellow of the ACM, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, IEEE, NAE, NAS, and 1991 National Medal of Technology medalist