“I said, ‘I guess it’s sort of futile trying to keep a backup file of personal memories....’

“She said, ‘Not at all ... because we use so many machines, it’s not surprising we should store memories there, as well as in our bodies. The one thing that differentiates human beings from all other creatures on Earth is the externalization of subjective memory ­ first through notches in trees, then through cave paintings, then through the written word and now, through databases of almost otherworldly storage and retrieval power.’

“I asked, ‘And ... when the entire memory of the species is as cheap and easily available as pebbles at the beach?’

“She said that this is not a frightening question. ‘It is a question full of awe and wonder and respect. And people being people, they will probably, I imagine, use these new memory pebbles to build new paths.’

“Like I said ... it was romantic.”

[ms 359]