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Seniors Search For Virtual Immortality

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the put-your-entire-life-on-youtube-for-the-grandkids-to-enjoy dept.

The Internet 209

Hugh Pickens writes "Most ancestors from the distant past are, at best, names in the family records, leaving behind a few grainy photos, a death certificate or a record from Ellis Island. But J. Peder Zane writes that retirees today have the ability to leave a cradle-to-grave record of their lives so that 50, 100, even 500 years hence, people will be able to see how their forebears looked and moved, hear them speak, and learn about their aspirations and achievements. A growing number of gerontologists also recommend that persons in that ultimate stage should engage in the healthy and productive exercise of composing a Life Review. In response, a growing number of businesses and organizations have arisen to help people preserve and shape their legacy — a shift is helping to redefine the concept of history, as people suddenly have the tools and the desire to record the lives of almost everybody. The ancient problem that bedeviled historians — a lack of information about people's everyday lives — has been overcome. New devices and technologies are certain to further this immortality revolution as futurists are already imagining the day when people can have a virtual conversation with holograms of their ancestors that draw on digital legacies to reflect how the dead would have responded."

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209 comments

that would mean... (2)

able1234au (995975) | about a year ago | (#43195767)

putting names against the people in those millions of digital photos

Re:that would mean... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43196195)

Ya know, the guy that invents a truly "smart" file system is gonna make Bill Gates look poor. What we need is a file system that can actually "look" at the videos and pics and "learn" enough about each one that if I say typed "Aunt Edna" it would know which videos and photos contain Aunt Edna without having to label thousands of photos, or if I typed in "green dress" as that is all I can remember about a photo I'm looking for it can show me the photos with green dresses in them. Bonus points if you have the info embedded in the file during indexing so that I can drag photos from one family member's PC to another and have all the data.

because at the end of the day the problem with TFA, with our world in general really, is total information overload. We got too much stuff and too little time but we do have these uber powerful multicores so what we need is truly smart indexing. If its not sure have it ask and learn so if I drop a ton of pics and say "These are of my grandfather" it will ask "Well what was his name?" and update and put in the metadata and that is that, no sitting there editing all that data.

Re:that would mean... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43196365)

Microsoft has already invented this (sort of), no-one really used it because it was slow, buggy, and made your entire computer run like shit. But that didn't stop them from patenting it. So rest assure, Bill Gates will get the money anyways. And now you know why Microsoft is still in business and will always be in business as long as there isn't any patent reform.

Re:that would mean... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43196705)

Microsoft has already invented this (sort of), no-one really used it because it was slow, buggy, and made your entire computer run like shit.

That's certainly not uncommon for MS wares. Actually, most commercial software, not just MS.

But that didn't stop them from patenting it. So rest assure, Bill Gates will get the money anyways.

You can't patent a concept, just its implementation. Viagra's patent didn't stop their competition from patenting Cialis. Plus, MS's patent runs out 20 years after they filed it.

Sounds alot like (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43195783)

a diary.

Re:Sounds alot like (4, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year ago | (#43195811)

"Oh, look, great grand papa's diary from the year 2013! Let's open it!"

Unrecognized file type .DOC

"D'Oh!"

Re: Sounds alot like (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43195947)

Wow the future sucks if we can't open legacy file types.

Re: Sounds alot like (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43196003)

It's more likely than you think.

Microsoft formats are designed to be as hard to reverse engineer as possible and the way software licensing and forced upgrades is going nobody will be able to run today's Windows 100 years from now so it will be impossible to run today's Word on any combination of emulators.

This might be solved if we move everything to the cloud, but all those Word documents out there, 200 years from now? Not a chance.

Re: Sounds alot like (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196057)

the cloud

Those .doc files aren't going to become easier to read by being stored on another server somewhere. At most, they'll become easier to lose.

Re: Sounds alot like (3, Interesting)

Gumpu (16052) | about a year ago | (#43196099)

Yes lets move it too the cloud! Your life's history data will be as eternally accessible as your google reader data :)

Re: Sounds alot like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196233)

Yes! But for whom?

Captcha: tomorrow

Re: Sounds alot like (2)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about a year ago | (#43196841)

"Yes lets move it too the cloud!"

Why not? Grandpa moves to the clouds, his data moves to the cloud.

Re: Sounds alot like (2)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year ago | (#43196171)

This might be solved if we move everything to the cloud

Just make sure Zynga isn't in charge of the servers.

Re: Sounds alot like (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about a year ago | (#43196185)

Perhaps instead of the cloud you meant something else [github.com] .

No problem, we get it.

Re: Sounds alot like (1, Flamebait)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43196225)

I dunno about that. How many file types from the 1970's are you unable to open today? We don't need to completely reverse engineer MS Office to get the data contained in the files, after all. Linux and Open Office manages to read them reasonably well.

I suspect that .doc files will be accessible for quite a long while, and that they can be converted to other formats before they are entirely obsoleted, and the emulators forgotten. Those that aren't converted probably have very little value to anyone.

Face it - if I sit down and make one of those silly things for posterity, my great-great-great grandchildren aren't going to bother with it more than once in their lives. Only when they are forced to by their mothers, I expect. Now, the Chinese, who have a greater respect for their ancestors might do so. Here in America? Phhhttt. (Yes, I am aware that ancestor worship has lost a lot of ground in much of Asia - still they have the heritage that we lack in that respect.)

I don't agree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196463)

Storage is cheap and VMs capable of emulating today's pc will be around forever. X86+SATA+SVGA is probably never going away. There will always be someone who needs it for something.

Re: Sounds alot like (4, Interesting)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43196719)

Actually, I know from a very reliable source that data historians are looking to virtual machines to solve this specific issue. It is a viable way to store complete, working computing environments for the future including not only the files but the programs able to work with them.

A few weeks ago I saw a demonstration of the first version of the mosaic web browser (the first that ever existed) and the first Macintosh. This last one by running it in a VM that run on a hardware emulator, that run in another VM that run in a VM. Don't ask me to remember the detailed chain of OS and such, but the point is that you are good as long as you can emulate a pretty recent version of something, and that version can emulate the previous one, and so on...

Related research about this is being done here: http://isr.cmu.edu/ [cmu.edu]

Re:Sounds alot like (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43196137)

"Oh, look, great grand papa's diary from the year 2013! Let's open it!"

Unrecognized file type .DOC

Exactly. And that is one of the things that makes me so angry with Microsoft - their attempt to scupper the non-proprietory Open Document format which stood a chance of becoming a standard for a long time to come. MS want to control any standard and keep changing it - so that people keep having to buy the latest version of Word to keep up.

But another problem is storage media. A few years ago I wrote some family history on an Amstrad PCW and saved it on 3" floppies. Now I cannot read them. Most people cannot even read 3.5" floppies any more.

My advice :- print everything you wnat to be available for a long time. Not on a laser printer though, because I have found that fades too, as do photocopies.

Re:Sounds alot like (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#43196253)

"Most people cannot even read 3.5" floppies any more."

That should be, "Most people can't be bothered to mess with a 3.5" floppy any more."

The technology to read the data on those floppies is readily available. Hell, for a small fee, I can send you an external floppy drive to plug into your computer. Don't worry - if you run any operating system that either used floppies, or has been developed since floppies came into style, your operating system will read them.

Re:Sounds alot like (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43196619)

"Most people cannot even read 3.5" floppies any more."

That should be, "Most people can't be bothered to mess with a 3.5" floppy any more."

The technology to read the data on those floppies is readily available. Hell, for a small fee, I can send you an external floppy drive to plug into your computer.

I thought it would be obvious that I was making the point that media and its reader hardware are changing so fast that you cannot trust a "standard" to last a decade, let alone two or more generations. If our great-great-grand-children find a 3.5" floppy in a box in the attic with our life story on it they are most likely to throw it away without a glance, even if they knew what a 3.5" floppy was and they could possibly find a agent somewhere who could read it at some cost. OTOH, there is a chance they will stop and read printed papers since it would not cost them any money or much effort. Some chance, anyway.

Thanks for the offer of a floppy drive, but I have a 3.5" drive within reach right here. I keep an old PC on my network specially for it, until I get round to transferring all my data on floppies onto DVD's - hopefully before DVDs become old hat too.

Re:Sounds alot like (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43196633)

"Most people cannot even read 3.5" floppies any more."

That should be, "Most people can't be bothered to mess with a 3.5" floppy any more."

The technology to read the data on those floppies is readily available. Hell, for a small fee, I can send you an external floppy drive to plug into your computer. Don't worry - if you run any operating system that either used floppies, or has been developed since floppies came into style, your operating system will read them.

Hmm, I tried sticking a floppy disk into my Android phone and it couldn't read it...

Re:Sounds alot like (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#43196649)

if you run any operating system that either used floppies, or has been developed since floppies came into style, your operating system will read them.

Can you read Amiga format 3.5 floppies? They're not recorded the same as the ones used for Windows, you know. Can you read Burroughs 8" floppies? 6800 Flex 5" floppies? CP/m floppies?

I'm asking as the author of a Flex emulation that runs under Windows; my finding was that Windows could not, in fact, read Flex floppies. No comprehension of the filesystem, you see. And I've yet to run into anything but Amiga hardware that could read Amiga 3.5" floppies, that's more of a hardware issue at the first level.

Re:Sounds alot like (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43195907)

futurists are already imagining the day when people can have a virtual conversation with holograms of their ancestors that draw on digital legacies to reflect how the dead would have responded

"Like, whatever, dude".

500 years hence (2)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#43195785)

Folk will be foraging for themselves in a post-nuclear/bioweapon apocalyptic wasteland as the ice sets in for 100,000 years.

Maintaining family photos will not even enter their minds. Nor should it. They'll be about finding a way toward the equator if they're smart.

Yes, it's wonderful! (4, Insightful)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year ago | (#43195787)

Add a couple pedestals with appropriate video clips of the deceased appropriately cued, and you have the basic setting for the Max Headroom classic episode, "Religion."

My question is twofold - who is arrogant enough to assume that they are interesting enough at all times to warrant 24/7/365 sousveillance, and who assumes that the massive amounts of this generated data will be taken care of indefinitely? Is this what a legacy amounts to these days and how much money can I charge for this service?

Re:Yes, it's wonderful! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#43195815)

Thats OK - the records will be safely filed on DVDs long after they are as readable as 8" floppy disks are today! (Except mine of course - my pictures are archived on DDS2 tapes (except the older ones that are on 800bpi magtape) ;-)

Re:Yes, it's wonderful! (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#43196219)

who is arrogant enough to assume that they are interesting enough at all times to warrant 24/7/365 sousveillance,

Spoken like someone who has never studied history. Detailed accounts of average people (or average members of a demographic) are immensely valuable in attempting to reconstruct an accurate picture of a particular time in the past. If anything, uninteresting people are more valuable: they provide a representative snapshot that can be used to extrapolate others. If you have a few hundred of them, you can do very detailed comparisons and discover the common details. The historian in me cringes whenever I see someone delete an email.

Re:Yes, it's wonderful! (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#43196697)

Accounts of average people throughout history were valuable because they were rare. Now they are billions of times less rare.

Re:Yes, it's wonderful! (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#43196239)

My question is twofold - who is arrogant enough to assume that they are interesting enough at all times to warrant 24/7/365 sousveillance

The answer to the first part of your question is anyone with a twitter account...

Nobody will care (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43195799)

I have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents - so far, so good. But go a few more generations back and I have 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, all of which are less than 1% me. Even if I had the complete records of what their lives and ambitions were in the 1750s or so, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't care what my mother's father's mother's mother's father's father's father was doing, I doubt I'd even get around to checking out 128 people before I was bored stiff. At best I'd print out a nice family tree where you could have about three bullet points to describe yourself and that is it. Maybe some historians want to dig through it, but I wouldn't.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43195835)

People seem to feel that they have to have some kind of lasting impact on the world of their lives to matter. Actually what matters is the affect you have on your contemporaries, those whose lives you come into contact with directly. That stuff may seem small but it's what's important.

Re:Nobody will care (4, Insightful)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | about a year ago | (#43195911)

People seem to feel that they have to have some kind of lasting impact on the world of their lives to matter.

And this sums up the philosophy behind twitter users completely...

Re:Nobody will care (1)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#43196103)

RT

And this sums up the philosophy behind twitter users completely...

Re:Nobody will care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196247)

It's spelled "caring" and "living a life".

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#43196457)

The irony of your name is not lost.

This will appeal most to the boomers who refuse to get old or die. The current crop is so self-absorbed...

(I'm a boomer as well but I desperately try not to be one.)

Re:Nobody will care (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43196721)

This will appeal most to the boomers who refuse to get old or die.

Anyone wanting to get old and/or die is insane.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43196751)

By definition, anybody who strives hard enough to not get old is insane. But after the suicide nobody cares much after a little while.

Youth is something to get past. Sure, you're physically more vital when young, but the young are mostly ignorant fools. 'Youth culture' is shortsighted and ill informed.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43195927)

Actually what matters is the affect you have on your contemporaries, those whose lives you come into contact with directly

I'm guessing that most grandparents would prefer to spend time talking to their living descendents now, instead of lecturing to unknowns of the future. A two way conversation is much more natural than a recorded monologue or rant.

Actually, what I really believe, is that older folks should do whatever they damn well please. They are old, time is short, and they don't need anyone to tell them how to spend that time.

Let 'em spend their days telling me to get off their lawn, if that what brings some minor joy and amusement into their lives.

Re:Nobody will care (3, Funny)

vlad30 (44644) | about a year ago | (#43196231)

Some people would be interesting to listen to for all society e.g. Leonardo Davinci, Einstein, Steve Jobs for the impact they have on society as a whole.

Most people however are like ants one, ten or hundred get stepped on and nobody even notices as what they churn out still gets done by the thousands of other ants.

Re:Nobody will care (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43196765)

You grouped DaVinci and Einstein with Steve Jobs?

Did Apple Marketing do that good a job at the hype?

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Alicat1194 (970019) | about a year ago | (#43195849)

As someone with even only a passing interest in genealogy, I have the exact opposite reaction - I would find this fascinating, especially if it included things like medical records etc. The possibility of "conversing " with dead ancestors is also interesting. My maternal grandfather died before I was born, but by my Mother's description and stories of him I would love the opportunity to chat.

Re:Nobody will care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196193)

There are only two types of people who care about their genealogy: The people that genuinely like going through the family tree and seeing all the little links that they had, and the people that just want to brag about what famous figure(s) they might have inherited the tiniest bit of blood from in the hopes of validating their clearly idiotic lives.

I'm willing to bet the celebrity blood hunters are in the majority.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

gajop (1285284) | about a year ago | (#43195903)

On the other hand I'd probably at least check those who have achieved things of worth.
I'd also probably check on them based on context: imagine if you would have a full picture of what your ancestors were doing in WW2, WW1, or whatever other local event that's interesting to you that happened in the 20th, 19th, and even 18th century.

It would also be interesting to see where your ancestors are from, how they moved in the world, etc.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about a year ago | (#43195957)

If you are old right now and do this thing, you might be one of the few out of your generation who has made these records available.
That should set you apart from the other 127 not so tech savvy grandpas and grandmas.

Being the most ancient entry in the digital family tree will surely draw you some attention. So grab the chance.

Us younger people will just be another record in between.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

baegucb (18706) | about a year ago | (#43196419)

I knew there was a reason for having a low UID here! (Pity my kid isn't tech savvy despite using Apple laptops).

Re:Nobody will care (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43196731)

If you are old right now and do this thing, you might be one of the few out of your generation who has made these records available.
That should set you apart from the other 127 not so tech savvy grandpas and grandmas.

My grandmother was born in 1903, and I found her baby pictures on the internet. The difference today is we take a lot more pictures and movies because now we all have movie cameras all the time.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43196779)

And because there are so many more movies, they have all, each, become less significant.

Welcome to the noise floor.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Alex Kasa (2867743) | about a year ago | (#43196055)

I hear you but I'm sure if you go far back enough, everyone has at least one person of interest in their distant ancestry. I seem to have a Greek Slaver as an ancestor and I would love to hear what he has to say about his life, even though I would probably find him morally repulsing and not have much in common with the guy. Also, maybe one day we could have people conversing with ancient "wise ones". If we had a holographic projection of Einstein that could simulate what Einstein would (maybe) answer to a question it could be an interesting curiosity. Of course this would create a problem. Imagine if American politicians could use holographic projections with programmable answers of the Founding Fathers...

Re:Nobody will care (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | about a year ago | (#43196097)

I thought we were going for the 'put their talking heads in a jar' solution.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about a year ago | (#43196117)

Of course this would create a problem. Imagine if American politicians could use holographic projections with programmable answers of the Founding Fathers...

That would be pretty crazy. Actually I find this persona cult built up around the "founding fathers" in the US quite fascinating, even though these are people who lived in a time that is very different from ours and during very different conditions, some Americans still seem to have this obsession about what this founding father or that other one would have thought about a present-day issue, one they could likely not even comprehend. We have no equivalent in Sweden, I guess the closest to a "founding father" would be Gustaf Wasa who liberated Sweden from the Danish king in the 16th century, but noone in their right mind would, if given the chance, ask him for input on a present-day political issue or obsess about the religion he did or did not practice. Nor would they ask those who wrote any of the revisions of our constitution.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43196789)

Sweden is to America with reference to the 1700s as Idaho is to Silicon Valley in the 1970's. The duds and fuckups stayed in Idaho.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43196123)

I have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents - so far, so good. But go a few more generations back and I have 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents

Possibly not - as you go further up the tree the chances of you finding some inbreeding increases. These days people move around a lot, so aren't so likely to inbreed, but previously that hasn't been the case, and with a relatively small population of partners to choose from, inevitably you'll get inbreeding (even more so for people who lived in small villages).

Re:Nobody will care (3, Funny)

SpzToid (869795) | about a year ago | (#43196191)

640 relatives should be enough for anyone.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43196421)

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

Never has a truism been more applicable.

Re:Nobody will care (1)

Chonnawonga (1025364) | about a year ago | (#43196551)

Maybe some historians want to dig through it, but I wouldn't.

As a historian, let me just say this: no, I really wouldn't want to dig through that crap. What people WANT to say about themselves--their pre-packaged, self-conceived advertising--is rarely the most interesting, reliable, or relevant material.

Tombstones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43195839)

I think the tombstone is a fine way to record the character and personality of the person being remembered.

    GET
    OFF
    MY
  LAWN

I can see the headlines already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43195853)

Today on march 32nd 2172, gerontology is officially the worst job now because there is so much crap out out there that nobody wants to read it.
More at 11.
So Alicia, did you get head yet?

Yeah, news in the future is obscene.

Re: I can see the headlines already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43195969)

You joke but purging useless data is going to be needed soon. YouTube in 10 more years is going to be out of control with useless videos.

Re: I can see the headlines already. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about a year ago | (#43196061)

As opposed to now.

Re: I can see the headlines already. (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#43196549)

Lets hope Youtube is on Windows servers - then the data will gracefully (disgracefully?) degrade without user intervention.

Revelation space (3, Interesting)

j1976 (618621) | about a year ago | (#43195869)

This theme has been investigated extensively in the revelation space [wikipedia.org] books by Alastair Reynolds, if anyone is curious about reading fiction about how it could look. Here, a full dump of a person is called an alpha-level simulation and is essential a living digital copy of a person, capable of continuing to "live", learn and having conversations with their descendants.

Re:Revelation space (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about a year ago | (#43196021)

Even a relatively static personality/experience dump seems pretty interesting to me. Imagine having the collective wisdom of the past to draw on.

Re:Revelation space (1)

causality (777677) | about a year ago | (#43196229)

Even a relatively static personality/experience dump seems pretty interesting to me. Imagine having the collective wisdom of the past to draw on.

If we still keep failing to learn from history (continue using fiat currencies for one example*) then it really would make you feel hopeless.


* All of them, without exception, have ended with hyperinflation. Perhaps we think we're special?

Re:Revelation space (1)

Time_Ngler (564671) | about a year ago | (#43196729)

If a fiat currency ends, then it has become worthless. How else would that occur except through hyperinflation?

Re:Revelation space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196437)

I'm amazed that no one has mentioned the Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back" yet.

Re:Revelation space (2)

hardie (716254) | about a year ago | (#43196887)

Also try Dark as Day by Charles Sheffield. He has a somewhat different take on personality simulations. Excellent book.

Oh great. (1)

ignavus (213578) | about a year ago | (#43195901)

Imagine the future - trying to read 21st century data storage.

Can you imagine trying to read beta videos, cassette tapes, Zip drives, etc even now - let alone in 100 years?

They will be using totally different data storage technology - imagine trying to watch a VCR in a house that only has Blu-ray?

Immortality? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43195943)

I don't think immortality means that. Virtual memory, OK.

Is memory really alive if nobody is looking at it? Also, it's a self selected memory, it's not real, hubris. People want to live forever (for some limited values of 'ever'), some probably will one day. Will they even care about their own memory at that point, never mind memory of their predecessors?

Eternal Porn Habits (1)

Catmeat (20653) | about a year ago | (#43195953)

See Schneier: The Internet is a Surveillance State [slashdot.org]

So, not only is every action, every message, every visited website recorded. But it's also going to persist forever and will, ultimately, be probably be the most concrete mark made by your existence on this planet.

Though I'm not sure it'll be much use to future historians; I'm sure the information will be heavily paywalled as some deranged capitalist is bound to think the porn habits of people who've been dead 200 years still has commercial value.

Unhealthy and egotistical (5, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a year ago | (#43195971)

A lot of people have some minor interest in their ancestry. However, with few exceptions, our ancestors were people just like any other, with lives interesting only to themselves. Those few exceptions are people who will be in the historical record, and have no need of this kind of service.

And that's the point: my life is interesting to me, but I am not egotistical enough to suppose that - in a hundred year - anyone will care how I looked, moved, and spoke. Anyone who thinks that their distant descendents will care about such a "life review" is, imho, pathetically full of themselves.

The other point to take issue with is the idea that this is "healthy". As one gets older, there is a danger of living more and more in the past. The happiest and healthiest elderly people I have known are the ones who avoid this: they live in the present and have plans for the future. Spending your time producing a "life review" would seem to be exactly the opposite of a healthy activity!

Re:Unhealthy and egotistical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196217)

It's not really about your ego. Historians would be interested in you precisely because you're average and unexceptional. We have pretty incomplete pictures of the day to day life of the past and the ordinary, mundane things, and that's what you'd be giving to the future.

It might not seem interesting *now* to have a record of what your diet might be and what you considered to be a fancy meal, but add you experiences to hundreds of thousands of contemporaries and it becomes interesting.

Re:Unhealthy and egotistical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196221)

Gerontologists have found that unhappy elderly are happier after reviewing their lives, even if they view their lives negatively. But this has nothing to do with preserving it as a record. That's the bs.

Re:Unhealthy and egotistical (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#43196405)

An individual ordinary life is not interesting in terms of the big picture, but ordinary life itself is of great interest to historians, since it's not the same as ordinary life in another period or another place, and it's the context in which extraordinary lives were lived.

We don't need *everyone's* lives, just a representative sample, but, given that technology makes this easy, it doesn't take a great deal of interest to justify it for the people doing it Compared to 'reality' TV the life of an ancestor five or six generations back might be an hour or so of worthwhile entertainment to a future descendant.

Of course, it's still mostly about ego...

Re:Unhealthy and egotistical (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about a year ago | (#43196493)

I am not egotistical enough to suppose that - in a hundred year - anyone will care how I looked, moved, and spoke. Anyone who thinks that their distant descendents will care about such a "life review" is, imho, pathetically full of themselves.

I know right? The market for this "virtual immortality" is HUGE! It can't miss....as long as the business plan involves collecting money from those who want to be preserved (content providers) rather than billing the eventual consumer.

Re:Unhealthy and egotistical (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43196785)

I think you're totally wrong. I think it would be fascinating to be able to find out what my forebears thought. I hardly know what my parents think, because we have differences that prevent us from engaging in meaningful conversation.

Re:Unhealthy and egotistical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196885)

My Grandfather passed away when I was at the age of 2. He was in the Luftwaffe during WW2 in the South East, specifically Greece, riding around on a motorcycle with a sidecar delivering messages between Generals. After the war was over he became and architect and helped in the design of a few buildings in Germany. Anyways, sounds like he lived a good life to me and I have a few things that have been handed down to me from him, but none of it is written word from him. It is all just photos from his time around Europe during the war, a few sketches of little buildings, and some coins he collected. I would love for a service like this to have preserved his thoughts as well as having items from him that were handed down to me. That is history that is worth learning to me and isn't in the history books.

Also, my great grandfather was the local shoemaker in the last 1800s, I could go to the museum all his tools and workshop are sitting in. But that will never teach me who he was to me, only that he had the skill to make shoes.

No one cares about your stories now gramps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43195999)

...so they're definitely not going to care in the future.

Seniors search for virtual immortallity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196001)

When I was a senior we all wanted to live forever, in fact we thought that way when we were sophomores and juniors too

Revisionism (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43196023)

None of this will necessarily mean history gets told any more accurately. It will just get revised differently. Since people are eager to "embellish" their resumes, these "life review" autobiographies will be chock full of all sorts of tall tales to make even Mark Twain grimace. What makes us think that behavior starts and stops with former Presidents? Facts have always been as malleable as Silly Putty in the hands of people with motives that make the raw facts inconvenient. That class of people just happens to include nearly every person that has ever lived.

Only good old "peer review" will straighten these Life Reviews out and make them truly worth preserving.

Re:Revisionism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196213)

Exactly. If I were to do a Life Review and be honest about it, it would be a horror story to my family. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. But if the record isn't going to be all lollipops and rainbows, negative life reviews will have to be included. The dark side of humanity would be just as important to historians as the good side, and even more important to future entertainment executives looking for a good villain.

Re:Revisionism (1)

garutnivore (970623) | about a year ago | (#43196291)

I was going to make a comment like the one you made. The stakes for historians is not overcoming a lack of information, tout court, but to overcome a lack of reliable information. Life reviews are not it.

Another problem is that, even assuming perfect reliability (which we both agree is unlikely), additional documents may have a very low signal to noise ratio. In know from experience that an overabundance of data is not a blessing when combing through it for relevant information has to be done by hand. Something like a full-text search helps but is not nearly enough to solve the problem.

Get over it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196049)

You are here on a brief visit. I hope yours is a good one. Then you, like everybody else, will fall into oblivion. Don't kid yourself with mausoleums, fancy tombstones, embalming, cryogenics, "virtual immortality" etc.

Death will be vanquished within the next couple of centuries, I'm sure, but that won't necessarily be a blessing.

Re:Get over it (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#43196259)

Indeed. The only chance you currently have is some sort of partial re-incarnation, but probably not even in this universe.

Death will be vanquished within the next couple of centuries, I'm sure, but that won't necessarily be a blessing.

I really hope not. Now, you can at least toast the cretins when they die (well, those that die before you) and be sure that at some time you will be rid of them or they of you. With immortality suicides would skyrocket because people cannot take it anymore...

google, facebook et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196071)

constantly record even the tiniest minutiae of your every day lives, quite regardless whether you want or not...

!immorality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196079)

At first I read the title as "Seniors Search for Virtual Immorality". Which seemed equally likely considering the glut of senior porn these days...

Re:!immorality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196537)

Speaking as a senior, I can assure you that it is far more likely. When you have only a few years left, you might as well enjoy them to the full - or beyond.

Tell feelings, not just facts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196167)

Of course I want the facts recorded accurately, but what I find most interesting is people's feelings about events.

I live in California. After an earthquake, we like to tell each other what we were doing during the earthquake. "I thought the rumbling was a train." "I thought the house would come down on me!"

My brother was in London on the 50th anniversary of V-E day. He went to a museum that showed you what it was like to be in London during an air raid. As part of the presentation, an air raid siren sounded. A lady who was old enough to have lived during the blitz gasped in fright. That air raid siren sound brought back memories from over 50 years ago, and for a second, she thought she was under attack again.

To my brother, seeing her emotional reaction to the siren was the most striking thing of his trip.

So if I left a diary like that for people in the future to read, I wouldn't just tell the facts. I'd also tell my reaction to events. Where was I, and what was I doing, when I heard of a certain big event? Did I understand what happened? Was I glad that the event happened?

Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196177)

Just have the grandpas sign onto Facebook, Google etc they will create a record of their lives automatically.

Personality upload? (2)

lolococo (574827) | about a year ago | (#43196183)

How about uploading one's personality into some kind of artificial neural structure, as in Peter Hamilton's Edenism [wikipedia.org] ? Now that would be much closer to 'virtual immortality'. Just sayin' ...

Re:Personality upload? (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#43196237)

No problem, give it a few hundred years before that becomes available though. If ever. Computing and storage technology is currently exploring the limits of physics. We may be pretty close to what is feasible in this universe.

Feasibility (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#43196713)

We may be pretty close to what is feasible in this universe.

Not even close to likely. :) Where did you get that idea?

We don't know what our own genetics mean; we can't manipulate them hardly at all. Or those of anything else, other than in the most crude, ham-handed ways. Our medical knowledge is at the scratch-the-surface level. We can't control aging yet. Chip tech is still at the 2D level... when it goes 3D, which will require lower power tech or some new means of heat transfer, chip complexity will leap from AxB to AxBxC. We don't have AI yet, but we will, and when we do, we'll also have a host of lesser technologies that will completely change the day to day workloads of every person living in a developed country. We're not yet off the planet except in the most baby-stepwise manner imaginable. Our crowd everything off the surface living habits could be revised to live well above the surface, turning the world back into jungle and productive farmland, no roads on the surface, no buildings, no transport. Just Lions and Tigers and Bears (and perhaps things thought long lost.) Our energy supplies are far more harmful than they eventually will become; our economic systems are based on scarcity, and scarcity is very likely to become a lost characteristic over time.

There's more change coming than any of us can reasonably anticipate, some of it purely social, but a lot of it based on technologies we don't have yet, because the underlying science isn't there yet.

FAILZORS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196201)

trouble+s of those Lit3 is straining

The only problem: Nobody will care (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#43196223)

I found some 120 year old newspapers a while ago. What was fascinating was the style, what people found important and that there was a Usenet-precursor (a column labeled "From anybody to everybody"). The people themselves were completely immaterial to me, as I had no previous personal connection. Looking at videos from a granny you actually knew as a child may be something people can understand, but personal stuff from 100 or 500 years ago is not going to engage anybody.

Side note: Storing data reliable even for 10 years is tricky today because of some industrial mis-development, in particular MOD going out of fashion (or never really being in fashion). Of all the other storage media, only archival-grade tape has the potential to survive and that is really expensive. Forget about all these "archival" CD/DVD/[wonder-storage-technology] media, that is just gold-plated consumer trash that may become unreadable after just a few years and will never survive 50 in typical consumer environments. The best bet an ordinary consumer has is to print on high-quality paper with a laser-printer.

Re:The only problem: Nobody will care (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43196875)

Storing data reliable even for 10 years is tricky today

I have everything that I ever downloaded going back to when I used a 300 baud modem to connect to BBSes. That's right, I still have a certain number of of Windows 2 binaries. It was on tape, then CD and now on DVD media. And I am pretty certain (haven't checked that recently) that the first CD-R disks that I wrote are still readable.

Sure, Jonny Jerkthumbs who archived every Playboy centerfold off USENET and crammed everything onto cakeboxes (or worse- those big bulk spindles of CDR media sold shrinkwrapped with no cakebox) of the cheapest CD-R media available at the time probably has lost a lot of his hoard.

no lack of self-serving BS in the past .. (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about a year ago | (#43196227)

Having some individual/organization concoct a flattering bio' is hardly a new thing. None of the "data" provided by these "services" is particularly useful to a historian, except as yet another example of vanity press, and, perhaps, as a record of what the "biographed" considered flattering.

write a book (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43196349)

If you want to last as long as possible, and have your thoughts and words remembered, write a book, publish it (even vanity if necessary) then send a copy to as many libraries as you can, books have stood the test of time, English will most likely be readable for a very long time to come. Your book will be traceable via a succession of indexing services (currently ISBN), and anyone interested in 100 years will be able to get a copy, or have one printed. I have no doubt that the actual book will last longer than todays efforts at saving data for posterity.

You can laugh out loud at people scanning books into any of todays digital formats in order to save them...... If you have any doubt , go to the nearest old library you can find and look at some old books. I am not sure if laser printing will last longer than actual ink, and paper quality might be worth investigating...

I don't want virtual immortallity (4, Informative)

rssrss (686344) | about a year ago | (#43196433)

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment."
Woddy Allen [wikiquote.org]

Challenge (1)

GerryHattrick (1037764) | about a year ago | (#43196663)

Interesting to specify a system which relied on multiple targetted questionnaires, textual analysis of e-mail, docfiles etc for style and keywords, tagged pictures, family tree, DNA results even. Usecase being for posterity to interrogate the deceased 'as if' they were still there. Analysis fundamental enough to be extensible as technology evolves. But hear this - it must be open source, because it can only be microseconds before some megacorp or startupgeek patents every obvious feature and makes all posterity proprietary. Could still be a profit-zone, if ingenious questionnaires inputting to the Standard (please) parameters could be placed on sale, and of course the software for Gedcom and DNA export can be as commercial as you like.

the door of death (1)

johnrpenner (40054) | about a year ago | (#43196761)

but you have to die — its the only way to live again!! :-)

safe passage — our cat, 'puck' goes today.. :-(

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