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In contrast to several other aspects of human personality, the individual’s memories of lifetime experiences have not been the focus of intensive social science research in recent years, even though a strong tradition of cognitive science research on episodic memories exists. It should be possible to remedy this gap by the use of information technology to collect, manage, and retrieve information from individual human beings. For example, artificial intelligence boswells can be created to interview people about their memories, assemble them into a biography, and answer questions about the individual’s life. This chapter begins with the example of educational software that uses very simple programming techniques to simulate interviews with members of a radical group, The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Then it highlights the classic work from around 1983 by Janet Kolodner, who created a system called CYRUS that simulated the autobiographic memories of two American diplomats, after which it critiques Roger Brown’s concept of flashbulb memories. After establishing this background, the chapter delves into a vast trove of written descriptions collected via an online survey, to which thousands of people contributed their memories of a personally significant residential move. The conclusion considers how existing oral history projects combine the memories of many individuals, and imagine how they might be expanded greatly through application of citizen social science assisted by teams of AI boswells.
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- Autobiographical Memories
William Sims Bainbridge
- Springer London