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Microsoft's "Immortal Computing" Project

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the beyond-the-grave dept.

Microsoft 316

SeenOnSlash writes "Microsoft is working on a project they call 'immortal computing' which would let people store digital information in durable physical artifacts and other forms to be preserved and revealed to future generations, and maybe even to future civilizations. The artifacts would be designed to make the process of accessing the information clear with instructions in multiple languages or hieroglyphics. In one possible use, messages for descendants or interactive holograms might be stored on tombstones. The project was revealed when their patent application recently became public."

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316 comments

misread title (5, Funny)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721326)

Did anyone else also read 'immoral computing'? :)

Re:misread title (3, Funny)

Weirdbro (1005245) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721344)

Microsoft's been work on that one for a long time.

Are you deaf!? I am NOT a Google SHILL !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721728)


Are you deaf!? I am NOT a Google SHILL !!

Re:misread title (5, Funny)

blowdart (31458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721352)

I believe the internet has enough prior art to make immoral computing unpatentable.

(But dear it's "art". Honestly. Pass the tissues)

Re:misread title (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721844)

Nope, whan i read was this:

artifacts would be designed to make the process of accessing the information clear with instructions in multiple languages or hieroglyphics. Hieroglyph of futureman booting vista. Hireroglyph of futureman accessing eshop where he can buy rights to view artifact information. Futureman angry about 'play once secure feature (customer first!), that destroy artefact after one view.' Futureman using google. Futureman downloading linux and artefact-rip. Futureman enjoying better part of 21st centruty pornograhpy.

Re:misread title (1)

eeyoredragon (674402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17722054)

I just thought it was what they referred to the whole windows update process as. It sure feels like you need to be immortal to make it through that :-/

yeah, I went there (5, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721360)

Microsoft is working on a project they call 'immortal computing'

As far as projects like this are concerned, there can be only one.

A bit rich (5, Insightful)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721380)

This is from the company whose business model is built around proprietary document formats - the sole purpose of which is to lock users into a never-ending upgrade cycle.

Re:A bit rich (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721438)

They can sell upgrades to the dead.

Re:A bit rich (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721444)

the sole purpose of which is to lock users into a never-ending upgrade cycle.


Yes, an upgrade cycle that lasts for ever, and ever, and ever... Sounds like immortality, don't you think? I'm not sure why they'd need a patent for it, they've done so much prior art already.

Re:A bit rich (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721496)

So it is time that one patents the concept of a time-account as brought up by Paul Van Herck: Where Were You Last Pluterday? [images-amazon.com]

This way the remains of the poor individuals having subscribed to M$ perhaps have a chance to make M$ richer.

CC.

Yuh huh... (5, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721394)

They can't even manage to preserve "digital artifacts" between two different versions of Word, much less forever. If you want to preserve a document forever post it in plain text on the Internet and hope that other people find value in it. You can still find 20-year old documents from the BBS era on the Internet because people found value in them and kept reposting them. And none of those documents are in a proprietary document format!

Re:Yuh huh... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721542)

You can still find 20-year old documents from the BBS era on the Internet because people found value in them and kept reposting them.

20 years is nothing. Project Gutenberg's [gutenberg.org] first texts date from 1971.

Re:Yuh huh... (1, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721738)

20 years is nothing. Project Gutenberg's first texts date from 1971.

Unfortunately, that text is the lyrics of Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes.

Re:Yuh huh... (4, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721618)

The great thing about digital information is that it doesn't need to be stored on immortal storage; if people care about the data it can be copied again and again to and from storages which die while the data lives on.

This has the nice bonus that usually no-one cares about information that's boring, so as time goes on the good stuff lingers while the blogs die; it's very similar to natural selection, right down to the immortal digital information being stored in temporary bodies.

Re:Yuh huh... (1)

Weirdbro (1005245) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721732)

Yes, but that only naturally selects interesting texts, not true ones or useful ones. I mean, if you need an example of the internet not selecting for informative things, look at Digg or Youtube. I wouldn't trust them to preserve documents forever.

Re:Yuh huh... (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721782)

This has the nice bonus that usually no-one cares about information that's boring, so as time goes on the good stuff lingers

Popular != good.

More importantly, what we find interesting today, might be totally worthless to people in the future, while stuff we consider useless and boring could be immensely valuable. That's the big problem with backups - you never really know today what you might want tomorrow. In many ways, the reverse is true - what is not backed up will gain value because of its rarity. Imagine how much you could make if you found a lost Shakespeare sonnet today - discarded by Shakespeare because he thought it was utter crap.

Re:Yuh huh... (1)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721978)

Ah ha! So this explains OOXML - backward compatible with every version of Word, ever. They intend to use it on tombstones!

Hell yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721402)

If there's one company I think of when I think "Easily decodable, well documented and long lived archive data formats" it's Microsoft.

Just think, in 150 years from now some poor bastard could be trying decode an OOXML document on his quantum computer and has to figure out what a WordPerfect 5.1 footer is supposed to look like.

Immortal stuff (2, Funny)

locksmith101 (1017864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721406)

I guess the main question, is what kind of data will they store for future generations? porn? videos of coke and mentos?

Makes no sense. (1, Informative)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721410)

In 1000 years, people may try to read that data, but then they'll quickly loose interest when they realize it's in an ancient proprietary format that can only be interpreted with an application that hasn't existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. And who says technology will be more advanced in the far future than it is now, allowing people to read it regardless?

Re:Makes no sense. (4, Interesting)

infestedsenses (699259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721498)

I doubt they'll lose interest. Sounds more like a compelling challenge to unlock the "mysteries of the past". A hard to read document is all the more interesting to a curious mind. In a few years a Word document may seem like digital garbage but add another 400 years to that and it will be insight into today's society, no matter how trivial. We do it all the time with ancient documents.

FRIST StOP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721420)

leaving the play Fear the reaper i8 rat1o of 5 to

will not the internet be the solution? (1)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721424)

One scenario the researchers envision: People could store messages to descendants, information about their lives or interactive holograms of themselves for access by visitors at their tombstones or urns.

Here's the thing about this. It seems really fixated on physical storage formats (i.e. floppy disks, CD roms, etc), ignoring the whole probability that more and more, storage in the future will be a network service. Take Amazon's S3, for example, or google's online storage plans. It won't simply be the case that a bad hard drive, or a faulty CD-R will lose critical family data, as storage via internet will likely be distributed regionally, or nationally.

Now, file formats are another discussion entirely, but I think things are heading in a good direction with things like ODF.

The key to durability... (3, Insightful)

killbill! (154539) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721426)

... is not to make the material support last forever, but to make as many copies as possible, and replace them often.

If the goal is to keep valuable information for future generations, a regularly upgraded, Internet-based distributed storage system would be a better bet.

Jurassic Sparc anyone? (3, Funny)

Half a dent (952274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721432)

Have your PC encased in a block of amber so your descendants can marvel at how primitive our coding was.

Re:Jurassic Sparc anyone? (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721836)

a block of amber so your descendants can marvel at how primitive our coding was.

Nah, you don't need amber to do that. One day the future civilizations will find all the E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges for the Atari buried in the Arizona desert. And then rapidly bury them again.

Re:Jurassic Sparc anyone? (2, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17722032)

Have your PC encased in a block of amber so your descendants can marvel at how primitive our coding was.

No, the sentient machines will marvel out how primitive their ancestors were.

This is Microsoft we're talking about (4, Funny)

tehSpork (1000190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721434)

"The artifacts would be designed to make the process of accessing the information clear with instructions in multiple languages or hieroglyphics"

This is Microsoft we're talking about, their idea of clear seems to be a bit muddy at best. Besides, doesn't Windows already come with unintelligible hieroglyphics, otherwise known as "error messages?"

Re:This is Microsoft we're talking about (1)

dpiven (518007) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721660)

In hieroglyphics, the system tray on my laptop says "The radioactive cricket is bringing a 110-volt dolomite croissant to Martha Stewart's hovering crankcase."

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721440)

In other news, the RIAA has filed suit against Microsoft over their "Immortal Computing" project, saying that if the general public wants perpetual access to their media, they should just keep rebuying the same crap over and over.

No DRM in this (1)

Merkwurdigeliebe (1046824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721456)

Necessarily no DRM in this in order for the information to be made esily decrypted (no as in it having been encrypted but as in being analyzed and then interpreted correctly in the future.)

This (the problem with constantly evolving systems) is a problem which needs to be addressed in order that information or data created today can be accessible in the far future. That's not to say that everything and all information should be available to be stored (and retrievable) in this manner, but in the least public information.

What do you wish YOUR ancestors recorded for you? (4, Interesting)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721458)

One of my aunts did a Civil War battleground tour, recently, on the tail of visiting relatives in Pennsylvania, and sent me a really neat letter about it. I have a really peculiar middle name, a gift from my great-grandfather, and she managed to find out that he got it from his grandfather, who enlisted in a Pennsylvania regiment about two months before the battle of Gettysburg and died, there. Found his name on the monument and everything. I thought this was one of the coolest things I'd heard in a while, just because I personally feel so little connection with history or my ancestors.

It got me thinking about all the OTHER things I wish I could know about them. These were coal-mining Irish folks, not so much for the reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, so they didn't make a lot of efforts to record anything, at least not that's survived the years. In the other branches of my family, the more recent immigrants from Croatia and Spain, we have a few stories and a little jewelry, but past 1880 or so, there's just nothing.

I want to know more. I want to know what they thought about the current events of their world (why DID my great-great-great grandfather enlist, anyway? ). What did they think of their jobs, and their families, and about why they were in their places in the world? Did they wonder what I'd be like? What did they wonder most about the future, and did they care?

So... tell me, Slashdot, on this fine, dark, cold Tuesday morning: If this technology, or something similar, had been available, what do you wish your ancestors would have left behind for you to read, or watch videos of, or hear? And why?

Re:What do you wish YOUR ancestors recorded for yo (5, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721532)

Good question and I think it depends on the number of generations they are removed from me, the information I'd like my parents to store is much different to the information I'd like a Great Great Great Great Granparent to store for me. This is assuming there is a limit to the amount of data they can preserve into the future.

With the more ancient relatives I'd be more interested in the day to day trivia of their lives since their lives would quite likely be very different from the life I'm used to but the more recent relatives I'd like to know more about their relationships between other branches of my family. For everyone I'd like some insight into any large decisions they have made, e.g. going to war or whatever.

I often wander to what extent my perception of the past is influenced by black and white photographs or grainy footage, it's strange that when I see some of the very rare pioneering colour film from the Edwardian period it seems a lot easier to relate to as the past being a real place than it does in black and white and I wonder what effect this will have on our ancestors as they view our lives today in full colour.

Re:What do you wish YOUR ancestors recorded for yo (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721726)

>wish your ancestors would have left behind for you to read
Where did you hide the money?

Re:What do you wish YOUR ancestors recorded for yo (1)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721746)

From around the 1840s on, they left their local newspapers behind. You can read the news to understand what they talked about, and look at the adverts to see what they were buying.

Can Sci-Fi be considered prior art? (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721474)

I have seen more than enough science fiction to have seen this application in many forms. How can this initiative be patentable?!

I believe not (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721534)

Easily. The similar sci-fi projects did not contain enough technical details, or the details they contained aren't applicable to this particular galaxy due to the local physics laws, and this is a necessary requirement for filing a patent. It's like denying a patent for a warp engine suitable for interstellar travel just because a ton of sci-fi writers has already described it.

P.S. IANAL.

Re:I believe not (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721658)

Speaking of technical details, did you see the patent in question? It's actually quite ridiculous. I liked the first diagram most of all. Forget that the obvious answer is "yes!" I just kept asking myself "they can't be serious?!"

Nice idea, but it doesn't deserve a patent (4, Insightful)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721476)

I can't believe they are trying to patent this (well, I can, but I don't want to). Anyone heard of Frederick Pohl? Author of the Gateway books. The aliens (and later humans) archived themselves for posterity. There are plenty of other examples as well.

It's a good idea, but not original. I read the article, but couldn't force myself through the whole patent. Still, it sounds to me like they are trying to patent the idea of a time capsule, with the only difference being that they are talking about information in a more interactive form.

They aren't even trying to patent a specific technique, but the whole idea. From the patent application (all the way at the bottom which I did read):

What has been described above includes examples of the subject matter. It is, of course, not possible to describe every conceivable combination of components or methodologies for purposes of describing the subject matter, but one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize that many further combinations and permutations of the subject matter are possible. Accordingly, the subject matter is intended to embrace all such alterations, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. Furthermore, to the extent that the term "includes" is used in either the detailed description or the claims, such term is intended to be inclusive in a manner similar to the term "comprising" as "comprising" is interpreted when employed as a transitional word in a claim.

So basically they are claiming that any system which in any way is similar to theirs is covered. Ok, par for the course. It still isn't very original, and doesn't deserve a patent.

What do they want to achieve anyway? Will you have to buy a renewable licensing scheme for accessing this information? Will it contain drm? Will sony end up owning your grandfathers immortal thoughts?

So what if I write an interactive information system as described, with the one difference is that I'm still alive, and I just want my genius available to my friends and family without actually having to talk to them. Does the system all of a sudden owe licensing costs to MS when I die?

This has to be one of silliest patent ideas I've seen. Of course, I haven't seen all that many and remain convinced that there are many more that are sillier.

Re:Nice idea, but it doesn't deserve a patent (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721560)

This has to be one of silliest patent ideas I've seen.

It's even funnier when you realise they're trying to protect their "immortal computing" insights with a patent that expires after 20 years.

If they produce a product, I bet the EULA will guarantee they'll support it for 20 years, or eternity, whichever comes first...

Re:Nice idea, but it doesn't deserve a patent (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721634)

So what if I write an interactive information system as described, with the one difference is that I'm still alive, and I just want my genius available to my friends and family without actually having to talk to them. Does the system all of a sudden owe licensing costs to MS when I die?
Well, if the patent does get approved, there is one minor consolation. It will expire in 20 years, which is a small amount of time compared to forever. (And hopefully you'll live that long, so you wouldn't owe the licensing costs to MS.) If someone's going to patent it anyway - given the insanity of the current system that even allows such things to be patented - might as well start the clock running as soon as possible. And as much as I dislike MS, better them than some patent troll. At least up to now, most of their patents have been used defensively - not that that guarantees future behavior, of course.

I wish... (1)

Wanderer2 (690578) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721478)

Let's get the joke out of the way first... As this is Microsoft, we will have to keep updating to newer versions of Microsoft Immortal Computing? Will they be backwardly compatible? ;)

I think we all wish our precious data would live forever, or at least a lot longer than it's likely to at the moment. My parents have stacks of old photographs in boxes... will I have such a collection when I'm older or will I only have a smattering of stuff I've taken recently? I'm just a couple of hard disk crashes away from losing most of my stuff, after all.

Oh, and did anyone else find the "youtube videos from beyond the graaaaaaaaaaave!" concept a little bit creepy?

Hubris? (5, Funny)

kubrick (27291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721486)

"My name is Ray Ozziemandias, king of kings:
Look on my document formats, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
(with abject apologies to P.B. Shelley.)

Mod parent up! (3, Insightful)

dido (9125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17722044)

Very, very clever. If I had mod points I'd give them! If Microsoft is really serious about doing this, then they will be doing the very antithesis of what they have been doing since, well, ever. Proprietary file formats anyone? Secret protocols? DRM? All of these things which they've been doing and promoting from the very beginning are precisely the sorts of things that will frustrate future digital archaeologists to no end. Consider the simple fact that we can still read Galileo's technical writings from the 1560's, but not Marvin Minsky's technical writings from the 1960's, thanks to proprietary storage hardware. Stuff is basically written on the wind [longnow.org] these days, and Microsoft has done more than any single organization (largely because of their market monopoly) to make information as evanescent as it is now.

Prototype (2, Funny)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721488)

Here's a snapshot of a prototype [daviddarling.info] of what these artifacts will look like.

Re:Prototype (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721606)

Here's a snapshot of a prototype of what these artifacts will look like.

So rather than encoding our information in a simple form which people in the future can translate we should be building a machine which can adapt to conditions in the future and learn how to communicate with the natives. And if the natives don't evolve in the right direction it should direct their evolution until they bloody well do understand it.

Re:Prototype (1)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721676)

Exactly!

And who better to enforce standards on people than Microsoft, eh? ;-)

Re:Prototype (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721798)

And who better to enforce standards on people than Microsoft, eh? ;-)

Ah yes: Moonwatcher the proto-human reaches out to touch the mysterious monolith, not comprehending the message displayed on its surface: Abort, Retry, Ignore?

If it ain't broke... (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721500)

I think I'd be correct in saying that most demonstrable long-lived storage medium is vellum. It doesn't take long to think of the most demonstrable short-lived medium... Actually I think that the British laws are still recorded on vellum. They've been doing it for hundreds of years. Computers are just a fad.

Re:If it ain't broke... (1)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721544)

You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. Ever heard of....rock? Paint on it, carve it, make big pictures on the ground. For long lasting storage, rock is unbeaten! Order your rock today, and we will throw in a free cave painting by one of our expert cavemen.

Re:If it ain't broke... (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721596)

That's the trouble.. you can't get the cavemen these days. Seriously though, when it comes to expressing discrete textual information, vellum is a very reliable material. Cave paintings are abstract and fuzzy at best -- perfect for Web 2.0 tags, labels and other such vague information.

Re:If it ain't broke... (1)

drgs100 (1002474) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721668)

Unfortunately I think our wise and noble government have decided to ditch the vellum which lasts practically for ever and go for plastic that only lasts a couple of hundred years. There was some out cry at this but given the unreliable size of their majority they can do anything they want. On a side note the deeds of York Minster are still preserved on a Saxon drinking horn.

Kidding aside, I think this is important (1)

retrosteve (77918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721504)


It's nice to think that all the technology we're used to will endure forever, but history goes in cycles, not straight lines. Civilizations fall as well as rise. When this civilization falls, it's possible that the infrastructure to build laptops, hard drives, and routers may disappear too, not to mention the power grid to support them. Whether that happens in 100 years or 10,000, it would be nice to know that the stuff we've learned can be preserved past that date.

I would be really happy to work on a way to take the most practical 10,000 pages of the Wikipedia in a few languages and put them onto some physical media that doesn't require tech to read, and doesn't deteriorate much over time.

Even a book, if it's printed on nearly-indestructible paper, would be good.

I've actually tried to get Wikipedia to think about some form of this, but they think I'm predicting doom n' gloom. I'm not, I'm just hedging bets. If I'm wrong, all we lose is some time and effort. If I'm right, the payoff is huge.

mod dOw0n (-1, Offtopic)

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Immortal Computing? (2, Funny)

Otto-Marrakech (989922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721510)

Clearly this is just the beginning of work whose logical conclusion is Bill Gates merging with the Helios core.

Nothing lasts forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721520)

I think this is rather funny actually since NOTHING lasts forever. Nothing.

Re:Nothing lasts forever (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721568)

Surely time lasts forever so all you have to do is encode fluctuations in the time wave which can be re-read from now until the very end of time its self.

Altruism (2, Funny)

Tristandh (723519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721526)

Wow, for a second there I thought Microsoft was doing something for the good of all mankind! Preserve data for future civilisations? Great! Then I clicked the link to the patent application. I almost forgot Microsoft's (or any corp) actions are solely driven by profit. Damn writeup.

Re:Altruism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721600)

patents are not always driven by greed (not saying this is not the MS motivation here). Patent laws the way they are mean you MUST patent what you create. If they don't patent what they create you can bet every penny in Microsoft's bank account that as soon as they do create it and they haven't patented it, that someone else will patent it and with patent laws the way they are something that "could" be purely non profit motivated could cost them a fortune. patents are defensive as well as offensive.

An alternative to cryogenics (1)

gordonwallace (1026508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721550)

Bill's just trying to find the ultimate storage device he can download his consciousness onto for a future advanced civilization to recreate into some sort omnipotent being. I for one welcome our descendants future supreme overlord.

They patented it?!? (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721556)

They want it to last forever, but then patent it to not allow anyone else to use the technology?

Oh, wait... that's Microsoft. They don't need to make sense at all, silly me!

absolutely hilarious (2, Funny)

2ms (232331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721564)

Microsoft the one to finally bring to the world an absolutely universal and timeless standard of communication with which all future generations of not merely systems that humans create but also the humans that created them themselves will be compatible...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA !!!!!!!!!

Sounds like a job for ODF (3, Insightful)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721578)

OpenDocument or ODF [wikipedia.org] "became an officially published ISO and IEC International Standard (ISO/IEC 26300) on November 30, 2006 ... The OpenDocument format is intended to provide an open alternative to proprietary document formats so organizations and individuals can avoid being locked in to [and outlive] a single vendor."

If there's anything that should completely die out (3, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721594)

...It's anything relating to Microsoft.

Erasing them and everything they touch from the face of the earth is one of the most helpful things we can do for future civilisation.

10,000 years in the future (4, Funny)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721602)

"How interesting. This ancient culture seemed to communicate solely by using images of nude females."

Karma Whore link! (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721612)

http://free.patentfetcher.com/Patent-Fetcher.php?s ubmit=Fetch&PN=20070011109 [patentfetcher.com]

Go to the link above and it will get the patent docs into a PDF format so that you don't have to install that ridiculous TIFF plugin. And if someone out there knows an easier way to view the page without a ridiculous plugin (under Linux+Firefox) please tell?

Re:Karma Whore link! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721678)

Install Windows or buy a Mac. Problem solved.

This, by the way, is for all the times someone had a Windows-related question and some turd wrote "GET LINUX DURHURRRRR".

Re:Karma Whore link! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721752)

.. and like those people, you are a WANKER

eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721622)

Am I the only one who thought that they already put messages on tombstones, yknow, by carving?

A suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721652)

"Microsoft is working on a project they call 'immortal computing' which would let people store digital information in durable physical artifacts and other forms to be preserved and revealed to future generations, and maybe even to future civilizations.

Try starting by supporting vendor-neutral, open file formats! If Microsoft are sincere, they must realize that they're not going to be around when the information needs to be read.

The virus continues (1)

Captian Obias (959206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721686)

In a 1000 years an advanced civilation stumble across an ancient artifact. The scientists begin to analyze the strange device by connecting it to their terminal. Suddenly panic breaks out, because across all the screens in the control room is the long forgotten "Blue Screen of Death".

On some guy's tombstone (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721704)

After spending 48 hours deciphering the hieroglyphs, the message encoded on the tombstone was revealed:

"Help! Some bastard locked me in a box and buried me alive! Air supply is limited!"

Question is... (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721748)

Will they create Open Format, or use their propriatory format? I hope they would invent better one than their previous so-called formats.

Ozymandias of Egypt (4, Insightful)

hachete (473378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721812)

I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said:--Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Re:Ozymandias of Egypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721890)

Christ, somebody on slashdot is quoting shelley.

That must mean I've had enough to drink. Time to pass out now.

Digital Preservation (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721854)

So let me guess, they won't be using this format to preserve the internals of Word documents or OOXML ?

I'm sure there's no place for such travesties as "useWord2002TableStyleRules" in a document format intended to last thousands of years and be readable by future civilizations ... nor in the tens-of-years timeframe which OOXML pretends to address.

Re:Digital Preservation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17721920)

It should go without saying that the purpose of a standard document format is to represent either structure (heading, footnote, caption etc) or markup (centre, italics, bigger font etc) and specify unambiguously what the contents mean. It's not good enough to say, in the standard, "replicate the behaviour of Word 95" without specifying what that behaviour is - i.e. how the tag in question affects the display or printing of the document.

Uh oh! (1)

NPN_Transistor (844657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721860)

Now the blight of the Blue Screen of Death will be passed on from generation to generation and will last for eternity. Even if our civilization is lost, millions of years later our descendants will unearth the artifacts we have deliberately buried and have their computers promptly crash once they extract the data from them. Perhaps they will conclude that we were inept at computer programming - or perhaps they will have finally found the missing link in the mystery as to why there was a sudden shift over to Unix-based operating systems sometime in the 21st century.

Not Only, But Also... (1)

berenixium (920883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721868)

"10,000 years this little appliance has been deactivated but perfectly preserved, my brothers and sisters. Let us switch it on and find priceless information out about our past..."

FATAL EXCEPTION 00000x010101011100E HAS OCCURRED. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR.

"Shit!"

I can see it now... (5, Funny)

maadlucas (679602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721884)

2000 years later...

Archaeologist A: Wow! A graveyard from the early 21st century, and it's perfectly preserved!

Archaeologist B: An awesom find!

A: I can't begin to imagine how much we can learn from this...

B: Yeah... oh look! This one has a kind of primitive digital inscription!

A: Can you activate it?

B: Reconfiguring my power source now... ah yes...

A: What is it?

B: A strange message..

A: What?

B: "This gravestone has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. Would you like to tell Microsoft about this problem?"

A: Who is Microsoft?

On one hand this is a good idea, but (1)

smartin (942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721906)

So much information is stored on media that may or may not last for more than a decade or so. Unfortunately for M$ though, while the data can be preserved or moved from physical representation to physical representation, the real danger to the longevity of the information is the format that it is written in. I have files on my computer that are 15 or more years old that i can still read and use because they are in ascii format. If they were in another format such as wordperfect, lotus 123 or even older word formats, i would have a hard time reading them today and an impossible time a few years from now. So the bottom line is that while preserving data to longterm physical media is a good idea, it should never be stored in a proprietary or envrypted format.

Prior art? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721966)

What about prior art for storing information for future generations, things like actual hieroglyphics, dating back to pretty much the beginning of civilization? Why on earth would anyone take a stab at reinventing this, when we have physical examples of how to do it already. We know they last because they lasted.

This is a case where Microsoft needs to remember: gloves.

What artifacts would store the info? (3, Insightful)

pjbass (144318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721982)

The patent surrounds the method of storing data on an device to persist indefinately. I want to know any hardware vendor today that makes some form of silicon or any other storage medium that lasts indefinately, or one that has announced plans to make such a device. Microsoft has some really interesting things coming out of their research labs, but this one makes me scratch my head, since they are not a hardware company, and no hardware company has anything remotely close to handling this research. While it's very interesting to be thinking of these things, I don't see why this is a big deal as compared to any other research project any other technology company may be working on.

Honestly, this is making headlines because whenever Microsoft files for obscure patents that their rather talented architects and strategic planners can forsee, they are challenged on the basis of validity for their patent. If some startup somewhere was doing this research, it would have never made /. Compare this to all research being done in quantum computing arenas, where some rather radical advances and theories are being pursued, way more radical than this. Do you read about them here? Not usually.

Then again, the ol' rock, chisel, and hammer seemed to hold information for a damn long time...

Interactive Holograms? (1)

SpanishArcher (974073) | more than 7 years ago | (#17721988)

Kal-el, I speak to you from an ancient time...

And I, for one, welcome our holographic interactive ancestors overlord

Seriously, I've been thinking about this matter.
I mean, a CD or a Hard Disk, at first glance, might seem tougher and more durable than a hyeroglyph on a wall in a pyramid....but it's not!
And all of our knowledge might be gone if not backed up, in not so much time...
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