The Washington Post

The memory hack: Can we realize ‘Total Recall’?

Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel star in Columbia Pictures' action thriller “Total Recall.” (Michael Gibson)

An interesting piece by Time's Keith Wagstaff explores the question of whether selective memory erasure — the technology at the center of Total Recall — is within our reach. The original film starred action superstar Arnold Schwarzzenegger. Colin Farrell takes on the role in this summer’s rendition.

The verdict: There are folks working on it, but, as Wagstaff quotes beuromorphic engineer Charles Higgins as saying, it’ll be “quite a while. Neither of us will be alive.”

Okay, so we won’t get to scrub out bad breakups from our minds, but the science could have significant implications for the military, particularly relating to post-traumatic stress disorder.

But all is not lost! The Washington Post’s Jen Chaney explores the innovations featured in the film, however, that have been realized — everything from full body scans (thanks, TSA!) to holograms (way to go, CNN and Coachella!) and location tracking devices (start with your phone and branch out).

What are you thoughts: What do you think it will take for us to realize selective memory erasure?


View Photo Gallery: Some of the world’s greatest inventions have science fiction to thank for their easy-adoption and popularity among consumers.

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Emi Kolawole is the editor-in-residence at Stanford University's, where she works on media experimentation and design.

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