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Outsourcing Memory

Google, Memory, and Forgiveness

by Noreen Herzfeld |

February 4, 2014 | 4 – 5:15 p.m.

St. Clare Room, Library and Learning Commons | MAP

“I’ll Google that” is an increasingly common phrase. Why memorize anything when it is available at the touch of a screen? Yet human memory and computer memory are quite different; while human memory is a process, machine memory is a place, one that does not fully allow for forgiveness and change. As we rely on computers more and more to be our external memories we alter, not just how we remember, but also what we remember, and our relationship to the past and to each other.

Noreen Herzfeld is the Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professor of Science and Religion at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. Noreen combines a background in both computer science and religious studies to investigate the ethical and religious issues raised by modern technology. She teaches courses in both the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Theology on Computer Theory, Computer Ethics, Science and Religion, Islam, and Religion and Conflict. Her books include In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit, Technology and Religion, and The Limits of Perfection. She received a B.A. from St. Olaf College in Mathematics and Music, an M.A. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Computer Science from Penn State, an M.A. in Theology from St. John's University, and a Ph.D. in Theology from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.

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