Cortical Stacks, Backups, and the (Lack of) Perisistence of Memory Between Backup Cycles

In the world of Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series of books, individuals record their psyches to “cortical stacks” integrated into their bodies, which allow for them to be resurrected into alternate bodies should their current bodies fail or be destroyed. This can only be done if the cortical stacks themselves survive the body’s destruction. The very rich and privileged backup their cortical stack information to remote digital storage farms so that they can be restored even if their cortical stacks get destroyed. However, while their psyches are continuously recorded in the cortical stacks integrated into their bodies, the back ups to the remote digital storage only happens periodically — once every 48 hours or so. This means that individuals who are restored from the remote digital storage have no idea what transpired between their last backup and the death or destruction of their bodies: to them, it is as if those hours did not exist.

This has always struck me as an ideal metaphor for what happens when we lose data between a backup cycle. However, when so much of our lives are so deeply expressed digitially, the idea of parts of you (and not just some “data”) vanishing as if they did not and never did exist is not just some abstract science fiction concept, but solid reality that some of us have faced. Your “digitiome” is as much part of you as your liver or your cerebellum or your memory of that wonderful evening in a rainforest field camp in the middle of the monsoon season, and losing parts of this due to data loss and a flawed backup plan can be almost the same as losing flesh or bone.

I have recently adopted and am experimenting with a cloud-based backup system, which I discuss in a three part series:

  • The first describes the rationale behind the various technologies selected for the system.
  • The second describes how to setup and use the backup system
  • The third describes setting up the backups to run automatically on schedule.