The founder of Optimizely wants to increase your memories


Siroker will not dig into skulls to rewire brains. Instead, the plan is to methodically capture and store all kinds of data – audio, video, and possibly biometrics – that can be easily searched or cleverly invoked in a way that increases your real memory with things you don’t. could not have remembered otherwise unless you were Marilu Henner.

This is the long term vision. Scribe’s first product is a more modest effort. “For practical reasons, we’re focusing on dominating a niche and growing from there,” he says. This niche is a complementary product to Zoom, transforming the platform’s audio and video into an exceptionally accessible mine of data. “Meetings are a good place to start,” he says, explaining that his product will allow people to focus on the topic and interact with others. “We’ll take care of the memory,” he adds. When you invite Scribe to a meeting – he appears as a faceless attendee – you have a dynamic reporter who not only records what people are saying and what they look like as they say it, but who can potentially delve into questions. previous meetings or other corpora to find excerpts from conversations or relevant documents. “It’s like a chief of staff is whispering in your ear,” Siroker said.

Scribe’s impressive list of investors, including luminaries from Facebook, Google and Y Combinator, endorse Siroker’s phased approach to total recall. “When people talk about merging with AI or computers, they always think of Elon Musk Neuralink is coming, ”says Sam Altman, co-founder of Open AI (with… Elon Musk). “But we have already merged somewhat with technology. Our phones have some control over our behavior and we are willing to outsource a lot of our decision making and memory already, ”adds Altman, who was the first to contribute Scribe’s $ 5 million initial funding. . “I no longer memorize the facts because I know I can just get what I need fast from the Internet.”

But relocating memory carries risks, the main one being a confidentiality issue. While aliens can’t rummage through our brains to access our memories, they can certainly loot the servers that store the personal stories Siroker hopes we keep through Scribe. And many of those conversations will be recorded passively, via inputs like the increasingly ubiquitous microphones in devices like Alexa. Or the augmented reality devices that companies like Facebook and Apple are developing. Or biometric recording devices.

Siroker says he is very privacy-conscious and all of those digitally stored memories will go to “your own personal safe.” He also thinks a lot about how to make sure the people you interact with don’t feel like you’re stealing their words. He doesn’t want Scribe to become something that erases the concept of “plausible deniability.” And so he’s thinking of giving people mulligans. “You can go back and delete something you said earlier if you don’t like it,” he says. “It’s not a permanent recording, but something over which you have control.”

Wait a minute… if people can play with your memories, or if you can modify them yourself, doesn’t that give us the power to modify history? Siroker says he doesn’t want people altering records in a way that supports nefarious uses like deepfakes. But that feeling ignores that storing your story means capturing someone else’s.

I doubt these futuristic concerns are hindering Scribe’s foray into the Zoom add-ons market. In fact, the initial product, now in private beta and widely available later this year, seems quite useful without giving us hyperthymesiac. When using Scribe with Zoom, you can not only easily find everything that is spoken in a meeting, but also perform analysis. For example, you can instantly create a superscript pie chart that dominates the conversation and doesn’t say much. And it’s simple to use the tool to create a meeting highlight that can be shared with those who were not present.

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