Will Recording Media
by Getting Closer to
--I’d like to direct this first question to Kazunari Ishimaru, who is involved in the basic development of next-generation memory technology at the Institute of Memory Technology Research and Development. More than 30 years have passed since the birth of NAND flash memory in 1987. How do you see the technology evolving?
Ishimaru: When thinking about the future of flash memory, there are presently two primary directions I can see. One would be to investigate increasing capacity, as we have been. I’m confident that information devices and communications technology will continue to evolve, advancing steadily forward. That being the case, naturally flash memory that enables larger volumes of data to be recorded will be in demand.
The other primary direction would be the development axis of making memory “smarter” to more efficiently handle large volumes of recorded data. Flash memory, for instance, is used in conjunction with a part that plays the role of a control tower, called a controller.
Enhancing that function will allow us to more rapidly and more stably record data.
And if we make data even smarter, the memory itself will determine whether to accept or reject the recorded information, and instantly present the precise information to the user. The issue is how to capture the necessary data from large volumes of information and output it. That is one of the keys to the development of next-generation memory. We could even say that memory will take on human characteristics.
--I see. So we won’t be limited just to recording equipment.
Ishimaru: Yes, that’s right. First, memory made not from semiconductors but from some completely new material may be developed. At a recent academic conference, research was presented concerning the recording of data on DNA. It’s an outrageous idea, but once 20 years have passed it may very well have come true.
Personally, I imagine that someday, things will be able to remember information. For instance, wouldn’t it be fascinating if the fountain pen used by legendary Japanese writer Soseki Natsume when he wrote I Am a Cat had remembered everything from that time? We would be able to read not just the contents of the novel, but his feelings and the conditions in which he was writing. And new works would emerge from the writing stroke of Soseki, which the pen would have learned, which really excites me when I think about it. It may be a distant dream, but I would love to take on the challenge of developing memory that could convey sensory information such as human emotions and the five human senses that accompany the recorded data.
--As I listened to you speak, I recalled the “Shikinen Sengu” ritual, or periodical renewal—where a new shrine is constructed—at Ise Grand Shrine. Every 20 years, a new shrine is erected and the God who rests there is moved. But the objective is not simply to “store” the thing. I think there is great meaning in the succession of the shrine construction technology and the ceremony procedures to humans in an active way. Even among researchers involved in virtual reality (VR), which is my area of specialty, ways to record and pass on people’s experience and skills are actively discussed.
Ishimaru: I see. The Shikinen Sengu is a framework for handing down human experience and skills. If we apply this principle to memory, it would probably be good to add functions that are close to human characteristics. For instance, having the memory be able to determine that a particular user has a poor memory, and copy a set of data for them. Memory itself will likely come to more closely resemble human beings.