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Unformatted text preview: SIX THE HIDDEN WORLD OF IMPLICIT MEMORY DECEMBER AFTERNOONS darken early in Boston. For most peo- ple, this is one of the more depressing features of the New England winter. I don't mind it much, because the early evenings allow me to enjoy the sunset from the windows of my office near the northern fringe of the Harvard campus.The stunning view of the entire Boston skyline is especially lovely in the fading light of dusk on a winter after- noon. At the close of one such afternoon in December 1993, I took a much-needed break and gazed out the windows. But my pleasant reverie was interrupted by the ring of a telephone. The caller introduced himself as Rowan Wilson, an attorney with the prestigious New York firm of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore. His firm had been representing the computer giant IBM in a major law- suit in which questions about memory seemed likely to playa role. I agreed to hear about the case and to consider becoming involved in it. ~: Wilson's first question struck an immediate chord: Is it possible, he wanted to know, for a person to retrieve information from a past experience without being aware that he is relying on memory? Most of my scientific efforts for the past decade had been directed toward precisely that issue. I had been conducting experiments investigating what my colleagues and I call implicit memory: when people are influ- enced by a past experience without any awareness that they are remembering.Yes, I responded, a person most definitely can make use of memory for a past experience without any awareness of remem- 161 162 Searching for Memory bering. But why on earth would an attorney have any interest in Dc knowing that? made This one had excellent reasons: parts of his case hinged on the via- .~xag! bility of the idea that memory can be manifested without awareness ized of remembering. Wilson's case entailed a dispute over intellectual think property: Who owns the rights to the ideas and knowledge that an mem employee develops in the course of performing. his duties? Much be tr: depended on the status oftechnical knowledge residing in the head of ancie an electrical engineer who had once worked at IBM, Peter Bonyhard. . Beginning in 1984, Bonyhard played a key role in IBM's development of a revolutionary new technology for reading information from a WH computer disk. He had helped to develop what is known in the indus- try as an MR (magneto-resistive) head. This almost unimaginably tiny, Whe paper-thin device uses a magnetically based method for decoding first information stored on a disk that allows computer manufacturers to the j pack much more information onto the disk than they could with pre- gold. vious technology. The technical and financial implications of MR row head technology are enormous, and Bonyhard was a valued IBM a gr....
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This note was uploaded on 12/21/2009 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 162 taught by Professor Burke during the Spring '09 term at Pomona College.
- Spring '09