Tuesday, November 23, 2010

About that NYU Prof With the Camera Implanted in His Head...

A few years ago a colleague and I got into a discussion about how soon it would be before people started having camera lenses implanted in their foreheads. This was a fun, light-hearted discussion, mind you, prompted by some news about digital miniaturization or something like that. But even as we joked, I had this unpleasant feeling that we were actually just predicting the real future. And I was right.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that a professor at New York University is having a camera implanted in the back of his head, giving the term "20-20 hindsight" a whole new meaning. The professor, Wafaa Bilal, is an assistant professor in the photography and imaging department of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He's doing this camera-in-the-head thing as part of an art project commissioned by a museum in Qatar, according to the WSJ. For one year, the camera will take pictures at one-minute intervals and feed them to monitors at the museum. The Journal quotes press materials from the museum as saying that the project will  "comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience."  Bilal's head-camera (as opposed to a camera head, which is entirely different ) is worrying students who worry that they will be snapped every time he turns around. I suppose they could just always try to stay in front of him as he moves.

This sounds weird, and funny, but getting back to the discussion I had with my associate, how long do you think it will be before humans are equipped with visual memory aids in their heads. My cell phone has already completely destroyed my ability to remember a phone number; why not get a third eye that does the visual stuff as well? And a memory-card slot just behind the ear?

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