Can your data be used to keep you virtually immortal? There are services being developed that allow your loved ones to have access to your data when you have died, in the form of avatars and digital boxes of your secrets and passwords.
Eterni.me’s services allow you to become virtually immortal. As chat bots are designed to imitate our speech, this company creates a program that goes far beyond that, they create avatars that are specifically designed to imitate you as an individual to specific people, after you have passed away. Eterni.me is a company that records your textual data and media from email accounts, social media sites, etc while you are still alive. You will be able to modify privacy settings to determine what sites the information is taken from and when you die the people you had listed will be able to skype with an avatar that has access to the library of your data. Loved ones are given access to your social media pages and web accounts you specify as well as given the access to speak with your avatar.
Eterni.me requires technology beyond chat bots, it requires artificial intelligence as well. You essentially leave behind an avatar of yourself as a “legacy”, complete with your physical characteristics and voice. In the future you may be able to speak with past generations in this way.
There are many problems to overcome. What events will be considered important enough to be programmed for instance. The company has been criticized for creating a system that goes against our natural emotional processes when dealing with death and loss. When faced with negativity, the founder of the company, Marius Ursache, has said, “You get the feeling you’re doing something right when nobody is indifferent to your idea,”. Over twenty thousand people have registered to use the service when it is launched in about five years from now.
LEGACY LOCKER AND DEATH SWITCH
These two companies offer similar services. Legacy Locker sends your passwords and digital property to loved ones, coworkers, etc securely when you have died and Death Switch goes further by also sending messages. You customize your privacy settings and “post-mortem messages” to be sent. Although what is even more bizzare than this is the fact that Death Switch makes the decision about whether you are dead or not.
“When you do not enter your password for some period of time, the system prompts you again several times. With no reply, the computer deduces you are dead or critically disabled, and your pre-scripted messages are automatically emailed to the individuals you designated.”
The New Yorker. “How to Become Virtually Immortal”. Parker, Laura. April 4, 2014.
Death Switch. <http://www.deathswitch.com/>.