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Are You Ready For the Digital Afterlife?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the all-ads-and-buffering-bars-in-digital-hell dept.

The Internet 108

theodp writes "Dave Winer's call for Future-Safe Archives goes mainstream in Rob Walker's NY Times Magazine cover story on how the Internet can provide a certain kind of immortality to those who are prepared. To illustrate how digital afterlives might play out, Walker cites the case of 34-year-old writer Mac Tonnies, who updated his blog on Oct. 18, 2009, sent out some public tweets and private messages via Twitter, went to bed and died of cardiac arrhythmia. As word of his death spread via his own blog, Tonnies's small, but devoted audience rushed in to save his online identity. 'Finding solace in a Twitter feed may sound odd,' writes Walker, 'but the idea that Tonnies's friends would revisit and preserve such digital artifacts isn't so different from keeping postcards or other physical ephemera of a deceased friend or loved one.' Unfortunately, how long Mac Tonnies's digital afterlife will remain for his Web friends and parents is still a big question, since it's preserved in a hodge-podge of possibly gone-tomorrow online services for which no one has the passwords. Hoping to fill the need for digital-estate-planning services are companies like Legacy Locker, which are betting that people will increasingly want control over their digital afterlife. 'We're entering a world where we can all leave as much of a legacy as George Bush or Bill Clinton,' says filmmaker-and-friend-of-Tonnies Paul Kimball. 'Maybe that's the ultimate democratization. It gives all of us a chance at immortality.'"

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a bit of an exaggeration ... (2)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805936)

'We're entering a world where we can all leave as much of a legacy as George Bush or Bill Clinton'

I hope not!

as much of a legacy as George Bush or Bill Clinton (2)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806506)

I pray to Allah, Krishna, Thor, "Bob" and whatever else may be listening that when I go, I don't leave behind me a steaming pile of legacy that matches the output of those two Worthy Gentlemen.

And I'm pretty sure that my friends and family have more taste than to honor my memory with a fucking Twitter feed.

pron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34806000)

Is there service that erases all my porn if I die? Before my family finds it.

Re:pron (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806030)

If it's that big of a concern, you could always use a dead man switch to delete your encrypted porn stash. Which if it's that embarrassing ought to be encrypted already.

Re:pron (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806230)

The switch to being a dead man should be sufficient to limit any feelings of embarrasment.

Re:pron (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808296)

Besides most guys have the ultimate "cleaners" and they are called nephews. When my uncle passed he had left instructions for me and a couple of my cousins to go and "pack his things away" so his wife wouldn't have to deal. When we got to his porn stash I simply handed it to one of the cousins who wanted it, he packed it in a box and carried it away. His wife was never the wiser and didn't have to deal with putting his things away which was easier on her.

If you really don't have a single relative in your family you can't trust to "put things away" when you are gone I'd say you have bigger problems than them finding your porn stash. And as for TFA it just makes me happy I'm the only nerd in my family, which means I won't have to have that ignorant bullshit as a "legacy" of my death. You'd have to be some kind of self involved narcissist asshole to want to leave some giant "Look at me!" bling bling web bullshit after you have gone.

Re:pron (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34809052)

2 thirds of facebook members enter "facebook login" into Google every fucking day, because they are too dumb to comprehend bookmarks and you are talking about encryption?

Dead man switch? (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806054)

His password to his encrypted stash should be his dead-man switch.

Speaking of dead-man switches:

A "close the window and dismount the encrypted drive after 10 minutes of inactivity" background task should do well if he has a fatal heart attack due to over-stimulation.

Re:Dead man switch? (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806660)

Yeah but today's "AES256 muthafuckaaaaaas!" is tomorrows "20 minute brute force - quantum computer lol"
Not that it's too likely someone will keep the entirety of his drive or data kicking around for two decades, but you never know. Maybe his mother would be so stricken with grief that she just couldn't possibly throw anything away, leaving a tasty pile of curiosities for some future niece/nephew/cousin to take a crack at: "Hey great-auntie look what I found! In your son's crap... Gay porn!"

Personally though, I think it's difficult to be embarrassed when you're dead.

Re:Dead man switch? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34808814)

As far as I know, only asymetric crypto is vulnerable to quantum computers.

are you ready for death? (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806004)

That's all beating around the bush. There is no afterlife, so how about the more serious question of coming to terms with someone's death? I is a frightening aspect that doesn't make it easier to cope that thanks to technology, people can still "act" (i.e. post updates) after they died, due to automation etc.

Does it make it easier or more difficult to cope when the deceased is still around somehow? There's a well-known structure for humans dealing with drastic changes like this, and it has two key parts that matter in this context: The phase where you ignore and fight the truth, i.e. the "he isn't really dead" part. Everyone who griefs has it, some get over it very quickly, some linger on it sometimes for years. The other is the "letting go and re-orienting" phase. Both are presumable more difficult the more old stuff you have around.

I personally think that our ancestors had a good formula: You were given a year to grief, and everyone would understand. But after that, you'd better be done with griefing and continue on with your own life. It at least gave people a guideline.

oblig: denial, a stage of death (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806078)

If you don't know where this famous quote is from, sigh, well, I feel sorry for you.

Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

That's what makes us weak. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34806254)

Our fear and denial of death. if we accepted death, we could live our lives more fully and we wouldn't be cowering every time there was a terrorist attempt. And there wouldn't be all those people waving their flags on 9/11 and their bumper stickers saying "Never forget."

We are a weak and cowardly people.

Re:are you ready for death? (2)

slinches (1540051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806290)

I think griefing the deceased would be in terribly poor taste. Think about how it would affect the grieving process of their family members.

Re:are you ready for death? (3, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806388)

There is no afterlife, so how about the more serious question of coming to terms with someone's death?

That's just as much a statement of faith as those who believe in the concept of an afterlife.

Ian Stevenson [wikipedia.org] spent his life investigating cases that were suggestive of reincarnation. I have his books somewhere. He never found proof positive of reincarnation, but the evidence he did find is compelling. As long as it doesn't interfere with one's belief system, that is.

hth, hand.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806432)

There is no afterlife, so how about the more serious question of coming to terms with someone's death?

That's just as much a statement of faith as those who believe in the concept of an afterlife.

Ian Stevenson [wikipedia.org] spent his life investigating cases that were suggestive of reincarnation. I have his books somewhere. He never found proof positive of reincarnation, but the evidence he did find is compelling. As long as it doesn't interfere with one's belief system, that is.

hth, hand.

Recent surveys say 28% of Americans believe in reincarnation. The rest use ordinary milk.

Re:are you ready for death? (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808850)

Faith is a positive assertion of something which can not be proven. You can claim that a jolly race of gnomes lives just under the surface of Mars and have faith that you are right, but my claiming that it isn't so (until evidence and then proof is discovered) is not a claim of 'faith'.

It's a common tactic for religious or supernatural people who make claims about god and ghosts and paranormal activities and all sorts of goofy stuff to try and gain validity for their beliefs by asserting that the point of logic and common sense is on-par with the value of their own beliefs, but it doesn't sucker anyone.

One can believe whatever they wish, but I do hope people stop trying to equate "I believe something" with "therefore it is just as valid as anything derived by scientific method".

I'm not sure what your final comment means, either. His supposed evidence is compelling, unless it interferes with someone's belief system? That doesn't make any sense. That's like saying evidence supporting the theory of evolution is only valid so long as it doesn't clash with someone's belief that the earth is a few thousand years old and that men lived with dinosaurs and rode them around like giant 25-cent K-Mart entrance rides, no?

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816346)

The original poster stated his beliefs as fact, and I called him on it.

faith [merriam-webster.com] 3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction;

There's still plenty of room for interpretation in quantum physics.

Re:are you ready for death? (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34811516)

That's just as much a statement of faith as those who believe in the concept of an afterlife.

Only due to the way I stated it, not in principle. See Russell's Teapot [wikipedia.org] for an extensive treatment. If you want an afterlife, you prove it. You can't rest on that it hasn't been disproven, because I can always make a more outrageous claim that you haven't yet falsified. I could claim right now that there's a Starbucks on Jupiter. Prove me wrong.

Ian Stevenson spent his life investigating cases that were suggestive of reincarnation. I have his books somewhere. He never found proof positive of reincarnation, but the evidence he did find is compelling. As long as it doesn't interfere with one's belief system, that is.

I might actually pick it up because I'm interested in such stuff. But the key word is "never found proof positive". For such a dramatic claim that would uproot a lot of science and belief systems, there better be more than some compelling evidence, and it better be independent of belief systems.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814348)

If you want an afterlife, you prove it. You can't rest on that it hasn't been disproven, because I can always make a more outrageous claim that you haven't yet falsified. I could claim right now that there's a Starbucks on Jupiter. Prove me wrong.

As it happens, there are possible histories that would result in there being a Starbucks on Jupiter. Since these histories are possible - that is, they can't be ruled out based on what I know about the world - I can't conclude with certainty that there is no Starbucks on Jupiter. I can only calculate - or, more realistically, guestimate - the probability and note that it is very low. In fact, it is so low that it usually makes sense to simply treat it - and other very low probabilities - as zero, as this allows decision-making processes to be optimized tremendously and I only have finite processing power.

I really wish people stopped treating science as a club to beat other people into submission. Not only does it tend to generate backlashes, but it also dulls one's understanding of these points, and recognizing what beliefs are actually supported by evidence and how well is the very edge of science - such recognition has been the key element of every scientific revolution.

For such a dramatic claim that would uproot a lot of science and belief systems, there better be more than some compelling evidence, and it better be independent of belief systems.

This is an impossible requirement. The very act of experiment rests on at least the assumptions that you have managed to eliminate all the external factors, and that you really did perform the experiment and not, say, dream of it - indeed, since Last Thursdayism is not disprovable, trusting any prior knowledge requires a belief system.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816782)

... trusting any prior knowledge requires a belief system.

Hey, thanks for posting. I've been thinking a lot about consensus and conventional wisdom of late. Next I'll have to look up 'Last Thursdayism'... :)

Re:are you ready for death? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34806800)

Of course there's an afterlife, just not for the deceased.

Re:are you ready for death? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34806818)

I really, REALLY doubt that you can prove that there is no afterlife.

While I don't go for the idea or hold any belief in it, no one can prove anything either way. So stop with the comments as if it's a matter-of-fact that you just happen to know oh-so much about.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34811468)

I really, REALLY doubt that you can prove that there is no afterlife.

No, but he who makes the more unlikely claim is the one on whom rests the burden of proof. It is not for me to prove that there is no such thing, it is for those who claim there is to prove it.

You fell into one of the usual logic traps that smart religious people (they exist!) build up: Assuming that in the absence of proof, all options are of similar likeliness and should therefore be considered with similar respect. See Russel's Teapot [wikipedia.org] for a more extensive treatment of this subject.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813156)

You don't have to believe it, but is it really that hard to treat an opinion with respect? If a belief in the afterlife is not being used to coerce or harm others, than what is the harm in it? Is there not more harm in trying to disabuse someone of a harmless notion that might be comforting to them?

All this goes out the window if the view of the afterlife IS being used to coerce or harm, of course.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34819238)

but is it really that hard to treat an opinion with respect?

Not every opinion deserves the same amount of respect. Claiming the Petrona Twin Towers are thes tallest buildings in the world, and claiming the Burj Khalifa is are respectful claims that can be settled or even disagreed about in respect. Claiming some hut in western africa is the tallest building in the world simply because nobody has measured its precise height yet, and thus it hasn't been proven to not be very tall is not a respectful claim, it is ridiculous nonsense.

If a belief in the afterlife is not being used to coerce or harm others, than what is the harm in it?

It does damage to the differentiation between respectable claims and ridiculous nonsense. It leads people to respect stuff that doesn't deserve respect, and stop thinking critically. While living in a dream world can be short-term comforting, it is long-term damaging.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34807612)

damn that facebook horoscopes app....

A friend of mine swears she hasnt been on facebook in months, yet i still see the odd update from that app inmy newsfeed

Don't overthink it. No one cares. (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808132)

Hardly anyone gives a shit about online tweets and web pages when you're alive. No one will give a shit when you're dead. This story is about the novelty of preserving online bits and pieces for one individual. It has no bearing on what one should do in general.

Re:are you ready for death? (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808770)

This reminds me of people who talk about the singularity, which some feel will allow us to essentially live forever through the combination of artificial intelligence and our life history of knowledge and actions. Or, as people like Kurzweil feel, literally actually living forever through medical advancements post-singularity.

I'm unable to grasp the concept that you somehow have eternal life simply because there is an entity out there with all of your information that behaves as you do. People talk about it as a possibility as if it's some great comfort, but I don't get it. If you made an exact copy of me right now and stood us side by side and then you killed me, I would still endure the pain of death. *I* would cease to exist. There would be a duplicate of me that at best seems exactly like me to the rest of the world. And that benefits the rest of the world (and, in some way, perhaps your remaining loved ones) . . . but *I* have still experienced all the horrible agony of death and non-existence.

Anyway, the fortunate thing about being human is that time does solve a great deal and over time you come to be able to cope with even the most horrible atrocities. You may grieve a few weeks or months over a lost relationship. You may grieve months or more over the loss of a loved one. You may grieve for *years* over a particularly tragic loss (a child or truly grisly or dire circumstances, for example). But as long as you can keep your head above water, chances are you'll eventually overcome it and move on.

I think what people would benefit most from understanding is that they barely matter while they're alive, so they're going to matter a fuck of a lot less after they die. You live. You fuck around. You probably breed. You die. All the great and horrible things you did during your life are not going to be remembered by a single soul for long beyond your death. Unless you're Hitler or Manson, maybe.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34811434)

but *I* have still experienced all the horrible agony of death and non-existence.

Almost agreed, until there. The whole point of it, and the part that we can no comprehend, is that you do not experience non-existence. By definition you no-experience non-existence because one of its features is the absence of experience.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814452)

The whole point of it, and the part that we can no comprehend, is that you do not experience non-existence. By definition you no-experience non-existence because one of its features is the absence of experience.

Ever been unconscious? Remember that brief flash of darkness? That's what it's like when your brain shuts down. You don't think, you don't feel, you don't remember, you don't comprehend you don't see or hear or even notice the passage of time - but you most certainly experience nothingness. Which, of course, isn't "agony" since the brain circuits necessary to feel agony or even mild annoyance have shut down.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 3 years ago | (#34811904)

No afterlife? Dammit, I want to get a robotic body once I die.

Re:are you ready for death? (1)

inanet (1033718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34817238)

of course there is an afterlife,

scientifically accepted too, however most religious wouldnt like it.

as for the religious side of the afterlife debate, I'll not get into that, but we do spend our entire life converting energy from one form to another.
this stops to a greater extent when we die, however forgoing being destroyed in a fission or fusion reaction the atoms that consist of "you" will continue for a long time,

and the energy that was "you" cannot be created or destroyed, but may be converted in many ways during your afterlife... however you may not be aware of any of it.

Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806026)

Where I used to work I wrote down all my passwords and kept them in a sealed envelope in a locked drawer that only I and my boss had keys to. It was sealed so I would know if someone opened the envelope, but it was there in case I died or became incapacitated.

Many people put their passwords in a secure location or share them with a trusted person like their spouse, or store them in a "digital keyring" and write down the access information in a secure location or tell someone they trust how to access the keyring.

My personal recommendation: Store "how to access my account" instructions with your will and estate papers but make them so cumbersome that it will take 2 people's cooperation and more than a day to get access to your accounts. For example, you might type up all your account info and passwords, ROT13 the passwords, send the account info to one relative, the "left half" of each ROT13 password to another relative, and the "right half" to your attorney, all in sealed envelopes with instructions that they not be opened unless you die or become incapacitated. Then put the how-to-reassemble instructions with your will. It's a bit complicated yes, and it requires re-sending with each password change, but with 3 people including your lawyer involved odds of compromise is very low.

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806500)

My personal recommendation: Store "how to access my account" instructions with your will and estate papers but make them so cumbersome that it will take 2 people's cooperation and more than a day to get access to your accounts. For example, you might type up all your account info and passwords, ROT13 the passwords, send the account info to one relative, the "left half" of each ROT13 password to another relative, and the "right half" to your attorney, all in sealed envelopes with instructions that they not be opened unless you die or become incapacitated. Then put the how-to-reassemble instructions with your will. It's a bit complicated yes, and it requires re-sending with each password change, but with 3 people including your lawyer involved odds of compromise is very low.

That's easy enough to break.

A relative probably already has some of your account information - such as your email address and user name. Give me that, and half your password, I know the password length, +/- 1 character. I will own your email account, then go through it to get all your other accounts, use "forgot my password", and own them too.

Your suggestion isn't very good.

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (3, Insightful)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806596)

All geekery aside, the guy isn't an international spy with plans to the deathstar. I highly doubt that his relatives (or most anyone else) are going to go to all that trouble to get on his facebook wall before he croaks.

For that matter, I doubt they'd do it when he croaks either. It's called: write down things and put them in your safety deposit box. Whoever becomes your power of attorney should be someone you trust to do what you want done, and they'll have access. No need for schemes. Honestly, "Odds of Compromise"? Your online identity isn't a national treasure.

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34807428)

So why even bother with a safety deposit box? Just keep them in your wallet or purse.

Or in plain sight. You'd be amazed at how much you can "hide" in plain sight.

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (2)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34809104)

Your online identity isn't a national treasure.

I disagree.

People used to write letters. And although they were not intended for anyone but the recipient to read, many families kept them. You can go to the Historical society and read immigrant letters from the 1800s. Historians use them to piece together the everyday history as compared to the glorified official reports or the which-president-what-when history.

And I guess by 2200, historians would be really happy if their research-droid could run its intelligent extraction tools over a couple thousand facebook pages and email accounts from the early 2000s.

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820544)

safety deposit box

SAFE
DEPOSIT
BOX

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806824)

That's why the subject of this thread includes the phrase "trusted source"...

Re:Leaving your passwords with a trusted source (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34807464)

That's why the subject of this thread includes the phrase "trusted source"...

If you trust them that much, then why do you only give either of them half the password?

Giving half to two people, neither of which you trust enough to give the whole password, isn't a solution. It just shows that you only know people you don't really trust.

Legacy, not afterlife (3, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806028)

Are You Ready For the Digital Afterlife? [...] To illustrate how digital afterlives might play out [...] Unfortunately, how long Mac Tonnies's digital afterlife will remain [...] people will increasingly want control over their digital afterlife

You keep using that word. I do not think it means [google.com] what you think it means [google.com] .

I for one am ready for a digital afterlife (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806098)

I hope Heaven has video games [wikipedia.org] .

Small Perl Script (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806088)

Eventually, I shall die but be replaced online with a small perl script and then live forever, or at least the life of the server. I wonder if anybody will notice.

Re:Small Perl Script (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806126)

Above remark posted by a perl script on behalf of painandgreed. He shall be missed.

What's that painandgreed? You aren't dead, you were just testing your script? OK, but you better call the Social Security office and your bank, I just informed them of your passing.

Re:Small Perl Script (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34809282)

Hello, I am Eliza.

Above remark posted by a perl script on behalf of painandgreed.

Don't you ever say Hello?

He shall be missed.

Say, do you have any psychological problems?

What's that painandgreed?

I'm not sure I understand you fully.

You aren't dead, you were just testing your script?

Oh... aren't dead, me was just testing my script?

OK, but you better call the Social Security office and your bank, I just informed them of your passing.

You're not really talking about me, are you?

There's a sucker is born every minute (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806092)

There's a sucker is born every minute. Nuf said.

Re:There's a sucker is born every minute (1)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806168)

That won't help their business. They need a sucker dying every minute.

Re:There's a sucker is born every minute (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806530)

That won't help their business. They need a sucker dying every minute.

Suckers are no more special than anyone else. They won't die every minute - once per person is sufficient.

Compare that with Ancient Egyptians (2)

Tibixe (1138927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806112)

It is interesting that the primary concern about death in many ancient cultures was to ensure that wise and proper advice [enwp.org] is given to the deceased for the afterlife.

The primary concern of modern culture is just the opposite: the impact the deceased person has after his death.

Also to provide them with food and drink and tools (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806272)

Also many ancient cultures living people buried food, drink, tools, weapons, even slaves with the dead to ensure they had resources to help them in their afterlife.

And we do just the opposite: we divide up the dead's possessions for the living.

Something to do with how our beliefs have changed over the last few thousand years.

Plus the dying often leave wise and proper advice for the living.

I *think* you're saying that we should do more to help the dead with their afterlives, but I am not sure.

Re:Also to provide them with food and drink and to (1)

Tibixe (1138927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808136)

This is basically about the selfishness of the living.

First, we think of how the death of a person will affect us, not whether the person is happy after his death or not.
Second, there is fierce competition for resources; taking from the dead (who cannot protest) was always easy.

I think we may be too obsessed about "immortality" i.e. making people remember us and we are really afraid of the spiritual afterlife as described by, say, Egyptians.

Re:Compare that with Ancient Egyptians (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#34812616)

Not always. "Cattle die, kinsmen die, I myself must also die; I know one thing which never dies: the memory of each dead man". From Hávamál. The Norse were all about the impact of the deceased person. But after a generation, you're a name in the kinship records at best, that anyone can confirm. Are you supposed to find solace in that? If that was the best immortality their religion had to offer, no wonder Christianity quickly became so popular.

Why digital afterlife? (2)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806122)

Why not do it the old fashioned way with a quality pen (or pencil) and some good acid free paper. Write in your journal every day, you won't be e-famous, but at least your grand kids will get a peek into your life.

Where will it lead? (2)

CityZen (464761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806194)

First, there was word of mouth. Then there were cave wall drawings and stone carvings. Next, we had books. Then audio recordings, then video.

These days, you could wear a GPS sensor, body position sensors, body vital sensors, and cameras, and record your entire physical life, except for your inner thoughts.

Someday, we'll probably be able to record that too.

Then, people in the future could waste a lot of time just "watching" other people's lives.

Re:Where will it lead? (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806546)

First, there was word of mouth. Then there were cave wall drawings and stone carvings. Next, we had books. Then audio recordings, then video.

These days, you could wear a GPS sensor, body position sensors, body vital sensors, and cameras, and record your entire physical life, except for your inner thoughts.

Someday, we'll probably be able to record that too.

Then, people in the future could waste a lot of time just "watching" other people's lives.

Facebook already provides that ...

Re:Where will it lead? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806682)

Given sufficient processing power, and a record of a person's life, and sufficiently advanced e-learning... could you program a computer to learn to act exactly as they would in any situation, to the point of being indistinguishable? Hello, immortality.

Re:Where will it lead? (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#34812084)

"Bobby, did you check on Grandpa today?"

"Yes, mama. Google Lattitude says he's still in the graveyard."

Re:Where will it lead? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814496)

"Yes, mama. Google Lattitude says he's still in the graveyard."

Can you rig an alarm to ring if he starts moving? You know, to act as an early warning system against a zombie apocalypse?

Who's going to look at it? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806220)

Who's going to look at all of this info? I mean, besides marketing folk and other data miners? More and more people will die and all of this will accumulate. I don't know how big of a pass-time looking at dead peoples' data is going to become. Also, if this data isn't in the public domain, it won't really be that useful to build new stuff out of either. It just seems like vanity.

If you want something you created to last after you died and for it to be useful, just release it as CC or something.

Re:Who's going to look at it? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806266)

It just seems like vanity.

It just seems like vanity? Make no mistake, this is the very definition of vanity. It's as if vanity came to your office, flopped its balls out and rubbed them in your face, screaming "I'm Vanity, bitch! Get used to it."

Re:Who's going to look at it? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806288)

It is vanity. Everyone wants to think they're important, and not some microscopic dot on a microscopic dot labeled "You are here."

"It gives all of us a chance at immortality" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34806242)

Um, no? SENS [sens.org] is giving us a chance at immortality. If you think having a few tweets and blogs "preserved" in a vast torrent of petabytes of equivalent noise is "immortality", I've got a gun here.

But you're free to have your beliefs, I'll be checking out SENS instead.

Re:"It gives all of us a chance at immortality" (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806772)

Ultimatly, no biological system is going to last forever: For one thing, it doesn't backup. You're just one really bad day away from being hit by a car or getting struck by lightning. The only real solution is some type of brain scanning - either into a new brain, or into simulation. Such technology is still so far in the future that I think it could be a century before we can even accurately estimate how long it will take. SENS and other advanced medical research are the only way of anyone alive today surviving long enough to have a shot at digital immortality, so it's still an effort worth supporting.

Re:"It gives all of us a chance at immortality" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34807364)

1) Please explain how two thirty year old people can make a zero year old baby?

2) Atoms don't have an age. Just as there's no male or female carbon atoms, there's no thirty year old carbon atoms. They're all the same. Created right after the Big Bang or in an accelerator last week, all the same. So where does your "age" come from?

3) Maybe one organism doesn't have "backup", but our entire society and its technology does.

4) Good that we kind of agree, but I'm even more pessimistic than you. I don't think we'll ever understand our brains enough to back them up.

5) But there's enough incentive (ie, a market) for anti-aging technologies.

There are going to be all kinds of treatments for all kinds of symptoms of aging.

Re:"It gives all of us a chance at immortality" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34809528)

My parents backed their genes up good. Also some of their wisdom

Re:"It gives all of us a chance at immortality" (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 3 years ago | (#34812130)

Unfortunately, current gene-backup technology is rather lossy.

Would you like your memories saved in FORTRAN sir? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806338)

Usual problem of 'eternity' in the computing world meaning about ten years or so. I've got a professor friend who proudly shows off his PhD thesis, it's all done on punched cards. It amuses him highly that neither he nor anybody else could read it these days, the machines just don't exist any more.

Well maintained paper: 1000 year life span easily if kept in dry cool conditions.

Your data on disc, or online: couple of decades maybe?

Back to the usual issue of how to maintain long term memories. I wouldn't leave it to a couple of apple mac carrying hipsters anyway.... better off with the Library of Congress...

Re:Would you like your memories saved in FORTRAN s (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806704)

Usual problem of 'eternity' in the computing world meaning about ten years or so. I've got a professor friend who proudly shows off his PhD thesis, it's all done on punched cards. It amuses him highly that neither he nor anybody else could read it these days, the machines just don't exist any more.

They can still be read. Your eyeballs or a scanner will do nicely. Or you can send them here [punchcardreader.com] .

More info here [uiowa.edu] and here [uiowa.edu] .

Digital Afterlife (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34806938)

I wouldn't mind living on in a VR environment, as long as it's not a hell [amazon.com] ...

Caprica? (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | more than 3 years ago | (#34807092)

Not a single Caprica reference?

Re:Caprica? (1)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813718)

yeah, i was waiting for one too. so say we all.

I want the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34807116)

I want some digital burn bags that destroy certain things when I die.

I for one don't worry about leaving a record of my (1)

whychevron (1230194) | more than 3 years ago | (#34807468)

I for one don't worry about leaving a record of my life . The government has enough information on file of me and everyone else . So save your money for other things .

Re:I for one don't worry about leaving a record of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34808912)

But did you leave your Prodigy, Geocities and AOL password to your wife or not?

Organize / keep your tech in order (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34807648)

I'm sitting in my recently deceased grandfather's nearly vacant apartment, currently zero'ing out his hard drive after spending about 12 hours copying files from ZIP disks, CD's, random directories on his Windows machines, etc. Forwarding the e-mail account, setting an auto-reply, unsubscribing from dozens of 'virtual offers', etc., dumping his Firefox saved passwords (banking, etc.).

The things that make it the most painful are the age of the equipment (p4, IDE, slow USB) and that stuff is everywhere. He was a professional photographer, and collecting the first 60 years of his work was a matter of filling a box with negatives; the last 15 is taking almost a day. Computers open options, but don't make everything easier.

The best part is that he wrote his passwords on masking tape on his monitor. Appropriate choice, given his risk profile.

BiznaT3h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34807852)

Caprica isn't real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34808238)

When your body is dead there is no digital resurrection, just crap left on the Internet. What a stupid concept.

Your legacy will be maintained, if you matter. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808646)

If you matter to the world, your legacy will be maintained for you. For the other 99.9999 percent of us, maintaining our legacy is irrelevant, because it's unlikely anyone will care after we're dead anymore than they cared while we were alive.

The fact is that the most fortunate among us matter to a few people around us while we are alive and those left alive after we die. The first generation removed from us (the first generation after we die that is not old enough to have known us while we were alive) will barely care and might know our names and a few stories about us from remaining family. Think of how much most of us know about our great grandparents. Chances are, we don't even know what their name was.

By the time that generation reaches adulthood, we'll be nothing more than a name in the family tree that some lonely elderly family member keeps in her spare time and our entire existence will have been forgotten, but for our name to the very few who care to research a family tree (and, frankly, I don't know why anyone wants to since it's hardly relevant).

Minor celebrities will be almost entirely forgotten within a century. Your most significant writers, actors, musicians, criminals, and politicians will remain a part of society for a century. Even most of them will fade away after about a hundred years and people will start to confuse what Edison and Franklin each invented. Presidents will be a meaningless name on a list. After several centuries, hardly anyone will be remembered. Outside of niche historians, we're probably talking a very fine handful. Your Hitlers. Your Mansons. Your JFKs and Churchills, perhaps. Your Edison and Franklin might still be remembered. Maybe your Agatha Christie.

The fact of the matter is that even the brightest and most significant and prevalent among us will fade with time, so why would the rest of us waste our time fooling ourselves into thinking anyone is going to give a fuck about our greatest moments, much less our ramblings and meanderings? If you matter, it'll be taken care of for you. If you don't, you'll quickly have -- for all intents and purposes -- have never existed.

Re:Your legacy will be maintained, if you matter. (1)

moortak (1273582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34810204)

For the first century or so you are right. After that the shortage of records on everyday life start to make you interesting again. I was recently given the task of trying to find out information about an early resident of my city. The biggest contribution this guy made was being one of the first barbers in the city. That minor role in history was enough to have a half dozen people researching every aspect of his life.

/b/ (1)

heson (915298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34808934)

i've testamented all my passwords to /b/ they will take good care of them and do sesible post mortem posts.

Re:/b/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34812174)

ne1 have sauce on hesons passwords? I heard he died.

Digital Afterlife (1)

Aeroslin (822593) | more than 3 years ago | (#34809012)

The title of this article immediately reminded me of Frederik Pohl's Heechee books.

Get a Life. Get an Afterlife. (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34809554)

OP is assuming that people will care what you have to say. Blogs, facebook and twitter are full of light rubbish. It would only be of interest if you were a famous person. How much effort have you put into finding out about your Great Grandfathers political views? Have you even asked? Even if this stuff was available, people who use social media. You can't 'friend' a dead person. Even worse, they can't 'friend' you.

You can already leave written memoirs at the moment. The good thing about those is people who write them generally have something to say.

Historians (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34809570)

Could be a great thing for future historians if it doesn't vanish into the ether. Imagine being able to access period writings and the like without having to flit all over the country/world...

IANAH, but I do sleep with one.

I don't care about saving my digital self, but... (1)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 3 years ago | (#34809776)

Does anyone know of where I can get the service that cleans out the porn from my house before my relatives find my body?

Immortality? Horse shit. (2)

hessian (467078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34810802)

You will be remembered by some for exceptional deeds, but even 500 years later, only the most exceptional of the exceptional get remembered. They are remembered only as names, a few books, paintings, symphonies or battles.

Does this make them immortal? Hell no. They are remembered as icons but not individuals. Nothing preserves the individual in its incarnate form. 500 years after your death, no one who knew you will be alive. You will exist only as a symbol.

Regarding the afterlife, I think it's time we stop the reductionist bigotry. We can't prove that an afterlife exists or not. We do know this universe is very efficient in the conservation of patterns, that these may exist outside of time, and that these tend to involve a micro::macro mirroring. These are suggestive things.

To paraphrase X-files, "I want to believe," but most days, I'm just another physicalist here on planet earth hoping for the best neurotransmitter function a corned beef sandwich, two cups of coffee and a little hope can provide.

Never heard of cut and paste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34812362)

So lets see...theres all this stuff someone wrote and then died after writing. People are looking at it, but cant figure out how to preserve it because its on a 'hodge podge of sites and nobody has the passwords'.

Cut, paste to somewhere where someone who oh-so-cares about this stuff will continue to pay for it to be preserved, done.

By the way, my technically confused wife came up with that one, not me. I'm not even sure she's ever used cut and paste in any application. She has a hard time with iTunes and any browser other than Internet Exploder. She spent 20 minutes earlier today trying to figure out how to print a 25 line phone list from Chrome, after spending 3 hours typing it up in an email. Soooo....technological immaturity doesnt seem to be much of an excuse there.

what about the impersonation of the dead? (1)

crazy_ape (169212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34812800)

I'll just leave this here...

http://www.okcupid.com/profile/taijiren/journal [okcupid.com]

Graystone Avatar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34813400)

We really need to find those generative algorithms that Zoe Graystone wrote.
Then afterlife is a sure thing... unless you are a poly!

Alternate view (1)

Token (5605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34813584)

To paraphrase Woody Allen -- I don't want to achieve immortality via web presence....I want to achieve it by _not dying..._

Layer 01 (1)

.tekrox (858002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34814098)

To: iwakura.lain@home.tachibana.net.jp
From: chisafree@cyberiacafe.co.jp [Yomoda, Chisa]
Subject: living on in the wired
---

Lain wrote
>>What's it like, when you die?

It really hurts! :)

-Chisa

your meaningless crap lives on while clogging the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816202)

net while your suffering under the The Full Weight Of The WRATH Of The Almighty GOD.
Amazing.

dramatic claims (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816424)

Materialists have dramatic claims too. The trouble with starting out with a simplistic model of the universe is that you have to keep revising it, whereas the oriental philosophy of yin and yang has been stable throughout the millennium.

hth, hand.

Misdirected efforts (1)

bradbury (33372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816882)

If only a little bit more effort went into preserving actual lives then a little less effort would need to go into preserving remnants.

Most individuals alive today living in developed countries can have an indefinite lifespan (if they want to).

That is what cryonic suspension and nanotechnology (to reanimate frozen individuals) or nanotechnology (in the form of nanorobots) to prevent death by various causes are all about.

While preserving the information is useful. One can only hope that the same effort directed towards preventing the death in the first place or immediately upon death will result in better systems and a cultural perspective for not letting people die.

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