IBM refers to this particular invention as an "aging file system" that simulates a natural aging process to documents printed on paper. For example this aging process could be automatically applied to .doc, .jpg or .gif files, a patent filing states. According to IBM, there is a need for a new kind of filing system that "automatically and selectively ages files contained therein such that the files themselves are caused to age with time and are not maintained in their originally stored state." IBM even says that "there is a need to provide such an aging function to apply automatically to all files stored on the filing system without requiring a continuing user monitoring effort."
Imagine your surprise when, a couple decades from now, you see your digital pictures that have been automatically exposed to an artificial aging process and now deliver only a fraction of the quality they once did. We wonder, if that aging process could also apply UV, water and fire damage to a statistically correct portion of your image data and documents. Imagine facing a tax audit a few years from now and having to tell the IRS that your documents have been aged automatically and were lost due to a statistical fire. Brilliant!
Let's not stop here and imagine the Library of Congress a few thousand years from now in the same light as the ancient library of Alexandria. I wonder if IBM could find ways to automatically decompose digital files?
You can find the details of the invention in detail here. And yes, IBM appears to be completely serious about this one and we hear that the company may already be in negotiations to sell it in the next wholesale package to Google.