Total Recall

What about manufacturing memories? This would be something like the movie Total Recall (based on Philip Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale“). In the film Douglas Quail (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) can’t afford an actual vacation to Mars so he has an implant which presents a full and complete (and quite satisfying) memory of the supposed experience.

“Is an extra-factual memory convincing?” Quail asks in Dick’s story and is told “more than the real thing, sir.” The “true-mem systems” from Rekall Inc. are superior:

“You’re not accepting second best. The actual memory, with all its vagueness, omissions, and ellipses, not to say distortions – that’s second best.”

Of course in the story and the movie things get a bit complicated:


We know our memories are faulty and unreliable. And apparently Hollywood has the same problem. In the 2012 remake of Total Recall Quail doesn’t want to go to Mars at all. So much for true-mem systems.


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