Today, people are producing more and more content about themselves on the Internet. From tweets, to Facebook posts, to blogs, to forums and more, there is the potential for a vast amount of information to be produced during an individual’s lifetime. So the question is: what happens to all this information when that individual passes away?
Facebook is one of the few social media companies that has policies relating to a deceased persons profile. Loved ones can have the account closed, or they can choose to have their account memorialized (where their account remains accessible to friends, but contact details are rightly omitted).
There are some companies that believe we may want to continue to have an online presence after we expire. For instance, there is LivesOn, who promise that “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting” (LivesOn 2014). The companies AI “analyses your original Twitter feed. Learning about your likes, tastes and syntax” (LivesOn 2014). It then sends tweets that attempts to sound like they have come from you.
Other companies offer to collect the digital information you have online, such as Lifenaut. Their aim is to “explore the transfer of human consciousness to computers/robots and beyond” (Lifenaut 2014) Now we’re getting into sci-fi territory right? Well yes, but the concept is getting some traction. In an article by Nick Collins for The Telegraph, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was quoted as saying “I think the brain is like a programme in the mind, which is like a computer, so it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer and so provide a form of life after death” (Collins 2014).
This leads me to the Ted Talks video, ‘After Your Final Status Update’ where Adam Mostow muses on this particular possibility. Check it out and let us know what you think:
Facebook (2014). http://m.facebook.com/help/359046244166395#. (Accessed February 2014).
Collins, N (2014). Hawking: ‘in the future brains could be separated from the body’. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/10322521/Hawking-in-the-future-brains-could-be-separated-from-the-body.html. (Accessed February 2014).
Lifenaut (2014). https://www.lifenaut.com/home/. (Accessed February 2014).
Liveson (2014). http://liveson.org/connect.php. (Accessed February 2014).
Mostow, A (2011). After Your Final Status Update. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D03n5dAmBSE. (Accessed February 2014).