During my misspent youth, it was something of a running joke between my hooligan friends and I that, should any of us be unfortunate enough to be saddled with the burdens of fatherhood, that the resulting child’s life would be best turned over to social experimentation in their early years.

So ill-prepared would we be for the perils of child rearing, we knew, the only responsible choice to make would be to devote the developmental stages of our offspring to the rigors of science. In this way, our hypothetical children could make some small contribution to the world, one no doubt greater than the dissipated life of crime, substance abuse, grift and general no-goodery for which any young minds turned over to our incapable hands for parenting would doubtless be bound.

As often as we heckled one another about the strange fates of our descendants, no one really believed it. And even though we demonstrated time after time that we were, in point of fact, terrible, terrible human beings, none of us really considered that, in the regrettable event that any of us ended up breeding, we would make guinea pigs of our babies.

We didn’t know anybody, in short, like MIT researcher Deb Roy. This is a guy who sticks to his motherfucking guns. The director of MIT’s Cognitive Machines group, Roy’s research has focused on language interaction in a variety of  physical and social contexts, as well as language acquisition in children. It’s this second line of thinking that led Roy to record his child’s entire life for the past three years.

The research, known as the Human Speechome Project, saw Roy install 11 cameras and 14 microphones in his home, represents the pinnacle of embarrassing home video technology, capturing every waking moment of  his son’s young life. After three years, Roy is done recording via the legion of hidden cameras throughout his home and he and his team have moved on to the work of analyzing the resulting quarter million hours of audio and video, working with advanced software  to find the points where the babbling of infants turns into genuine human language.