Microsoft will give PCs a 'photographic memory' by screenshotting everything you do

Microsoft has just unveiled a new AI-powered feature coming to Windows 11 that enables PCs to have a 'photographic memory' for user exploration.

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Microsoft has just wrapped up its Build conference where it gave many details on the company overall pushing into adopting artificial intelligence.

The company revealed its new AI-powered tool called Copilot+, and part of this new feature is a sub-feature called "Recall," which enables Windows users to search and retrieve their past activities on their PC. Microsoft writes in its blogpost that with Recall, users will be able to access "what you have seen or done on your PC in a way that feels like having photographic memory", which is certainly going to be the case as for Recall to work it needs to take a screenshot of what is displayed on your PC every few seconds.

Microsoft's blogpost explained that Recall leverages "your personal semantic index" that is built and stored "entirely on your device". Presumably, a users semantic index will consist of individual snapshots of what is displayed on their desktop at any given time. Users are able to access specific periods in time with these snapshots, with Copilot+ also being able to provide context for the event.

"When you launch Recall or when you select the Now button, a screenshot is taken of your current screen and displayed in the Recall app. This screenshot will show your private browsing windows, but the contents of this screenshot aren't saved," writes Microsoft

The new feature while certainly being impressive, and perhaps even a reason why someone would want to upgrade to one of Microsoft's newly announced AI PCs, raises privacy concerns for Windows users. A simple example of a serious privacy violation using Recall would be a nefarious actor gaining access to an individual's Windows account and using Recall to see everything that the user has done on the device.

However, Microsoft is adamant privacy is paramount, saying "Recall screenshots are only linked to a specific user profile and Recall does not share them with other users, make them available for Microsoft to view, or use them for targeting advertisements. Screenshots are only available to the person whose profile was used to sign in to the device."

Furthermore, Recall can be stopped and paused by users, and the content captured with the tool can be deleted. Additionally, users are able to exclude specific apps or websites from being captured, and Microsoft has already implemented exclusions for private web browsing sessions in Edge or DRM-protected content. However, Recall won't hide any sensitive personal information such as passwords or financial information.

"Your snapshots are securely stored on your PC. The AI processing also happens just on your device. You can delete your snapshots at any time by going to Settings > Privacy & security > Recall & snapshots on your PC. Windows sets a maximum storage size to use for snapshots, which you can change at any time. Once that maximum is reached, the oldest snapshots are deleted automatically," writes Microsoft

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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