Mind backup lists

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Mind backup is a hypothetical method to record as many contents of a human mind as possible. Most mind contents would be memories, but also skills, biases, and traits. Currently, human memories can only be recorded by writing them down in great detail, supplemented with photos, video, audio, and other data. Far more advanced ways to record human memories have been proposed by science fiction authors and futurists, but remain impossible with present technology. The goal would be to record as many contents of a human mind as possible using only existing technology, which could be quite simple.[1]

Many different Mind backup methods have been proposed, some of which are highly speculative. Mind backup lists have the advantage that they require no new technology. They could fill the gap between existing mnemonics and yet to be invented brain implants, but could require a deep understanding of human memory.[2][3] Memory records could be organized in a three-level hierarchy. The top level contains the life outline, the middle level contains repeating life elements (like people and places), and the bottom level contains the full life description. The bottom level would take the longest to record and could never be completed, as explored in literature. A single top-level entry would have many corresponding entries at the lower levels.

Each level contains many lists to record many types of memories. Different people would need different lists, depending on their personalities and priorities.[4] The list of all useful memory lists could be very long.

Top Level lists: life overview

At the top are a few relatively short lists, the summary of the lifetime so far. These would be created first to get the project started, with more details added at the next lower level. Data could be entered in a timeline divided into life eras. Other lists could describe the person's priorities and psychological properties over time, based on common life stages.[5] Almost anyone could create their life overview in a reasonable time, though few people have:


  • A list of the subject's approximate life locations over time. Could be divided into the regions they lived and their homes there.


  • A list of the subject's public selves (their persona or character mask). Could be subdivided into schools, jobs, and public/private identities.


  • A list of the subject's defining life events and transitions. If they leave out or modify certain unpleasant or traumatic events, the resulting Mind Backup may not be as accurate. Then it might or might not be able to capture their mental essence.


  • A list of the subject's important relatives, friends, associates, spouses, offspring - and how they were perceived.

Life's works

  • A list of long-term projects, major challenges and achievements over time, and serious interests. This could also include notable beliefs, long-term delusions or distractions, or even paracosms.


  • A list of major likes and dislikes. Could include favorite foods, genres, activities, and fears and aversions.


Mid-Level lists: lifetime elements

This level could contain all the repeating lifetime elements stored not as single events, but that have earned their own mental category. It wouldn't record the full memories of a lifetime, but how these memories have been sorted and organized in the mind. This is where the problem gets challenging, since a median lifetime contains over 25,000 days; on many of which multiple memories were formed. The middle level would still have a high degree of abstraction, reflecting the way the brain creates an ongoing lifetime narrative.[6]


  • A complete list of all remembered places through the years. Houses, stores, hangouts, libraries, businesses, homes, and how these were arranged in space.
  • Could be supplemented with data from Google Earth or equivalent mapping service.

Repeating activities

  • A vast list of daily or weekly repeating actions. Commuting, sitting in classes, talking and social media, reading, even sleeping.
  • Also all learned skills and talents.


  • A chronological list of thousands of remembered events that are at least somewhat significant. A lifetime's worth of interesting or notable stories, mostly brief scenes or isolated moments in the past. These could be roughly ordered in a timeline.
  • There could be many sub-categories of events: arguments, meetings and encounters, transactions, excursions, one-time activities, tasks, coincidences. These might differ for everyone.


  • A complete list of all the people the subject has known even casually, and can still remember. More relatives, friends, rivals, acquaintances, and all online contacts.

Professional and creative

  • Complete work life records.
  • All saved records from all other creative activities and major interests.

Social events

  • A list of repeating or singular family visits, occasions, parties, friend activities, groups and cliques, sports, clubs.


  • Actual and potential life partners, crushes, infatuations, and even parasocial interests.

Mass media

  • A vast list of all entertainment and educational media passively consumed. It could be subdivided into motion pictures, magazines and newspapers, books, comics, TV shows, video games, websites, blogs . . .

Mental states

  • At different times, the subject may act like like a different person, with different moods, behavioral changes, social and work roles and cycles. Also how they react to different stresses and opportunities.

Other categories

  • More list categories: Food, Medical, Religion, Vacations, Pets.
  • Or even lists of randomly meaningful occurrences like dubious anecdotes or supposed paranormal events.
  • All available computer files, saved records, receipts.

Bottom Level lists: maximum possible detail

The full timeline

  • This would be an objective and comprehensive day-to-day account of a full lifetime. Descriptions of tens or hundreds of thousands of small events, some or most of which would rarely or never be recalled. Recording these events could be automated. They could include the data from life planning software,[7], dashboard and other cameras, location trackers, online browsing and other media, and monitoring software.
  • Including data never perceived by the subject, but providing an outside view of their life, like evaluations written by other people.

The diary

  • This would be a subjective, stream-of-consciousness series of loosely linked journal entries or voice narrations. Mostly random and unsorted observations about events, responses, and beliefs, feelings, or perceptions. The initial goal would be amassing quantity over quality, forming a narrative of the subject's mental self.


  • Once enough data has been gathered in lists, the next step might be to use the data to create software simulations or recreations of important life settings or periods. The simulations could be simplified, composite, or idealized life settings. At first these wouldn't be much more advanced than a computer game like the Sims.


  1. Create Your Life Story, retrieved Jan 15 2017. http://createyourlifestory.com/category/technology/
  2. Jean Piaget's Schema Theory, retrieved Jan 19 2017. http://www.etsu.edu/fsi/learning/schematheory.aspx
  3. The human memory, retrieved Jan 19 2017. http://www.human-memory.net/
  4. Lifemap short biographies site, retrieved Jan 15 2017. http://lifemap.io/
  5. Erikson's Psychosocial Stages Summary Chart, Jun 15 2016. https://www.verywell.com/eriksons-psychosocial-stages-summary-chart-2795742
  6. Brewer, William F.; Pani, John R. "The Structure of Human Memory", ERIC Number: ED247542, Aug 1984. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED247542
  7. Lifehack.org, Joel Falconer article, retrieved Jan 14 2017. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/11-free-mind-mapping-applications-web-services.html