Be right back from heaven
By Adarsh Matham
17th March 2013 12:00 AM
Just a few months away from the ripe age of 30, I find myself worrying more and more about death. Not that I will die today, but that I will die one day. And it is not about wanting to keep living on forever in this grim and barbarous world, but I want to live at the least till 2100 AD when I will be 117 years old. Just think about it. When I was born, the Commodore 64 with its 64KB of RAM was all the rage. Nokia’s 1100 mobile phone which we now consider dumb and obsolete was debuted not even 10 years ago. Today, in 2013, we are already talking of head-mounted augmented reality glasses, smart watches and bendable phones. If you consider how fast technology is moving ahead, you will like me start wondering what kind of technology will the world see as the year 2100 rolls in. As someone said on my Twitter timeline, “Your awesome smartphone is the crappiest tech your child will ever see. It’s their Commodore 64.”
My only hope was that by the time I am ready to die, nano technology will have been so advanced that we as a race would have cured that most archaic condition called “aging”. Or at the least, I was hoping that I could be cryogenically frozen to be woken up a hundred or 200 years in the future, so I can play with the latest technologies the Apples, and Googles of that time will be making. As of today, I know one thing for sure. I may not live on forever physically, but my digital self will live on forever for sure. That would be, thanks to services like LiveOn (www.liveon.com) whose motto is “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting”.
Being developed by a London-based ad agency called Lean Mean Fighting Machine, LiveOn makes use of Twitter bots that will scour your social networks, will understand your online behaviour, and will make use of that understanding to learn how you speak, so that it can keep on tweeting in your name just like you would do even after you have passed away. The service promises to “keep your story alive, so your descendants will know you through your own words and have a better understanding of themselves because of it”.
This service is eerily similar to the AI (artificial intelligence) featured in the ‘Be Right Back’ episode of Black Mirror, a British television drama created by British satirist Charlie Brooker. While Black Mirror in general deals with the humanity’s complicated relationship with technology in a near future, this particular episode depicted a young widow who gets addicted to chatting to a piece of software that mimics her husband by trawling through his social networking history and personal emails thereby emulating his personality. It ends with the software going through the husband’s photos and videos so as to offer a robot that will act and speak like him.
Coming back to LiveOn, it is one of the first of its kind services that is offering to keep our digital selves alive even after we are gone. Putting the ethics of chatting to a dead person aside, just the fact that we will accrue trillions of bytes of data in our life time whenever we do something on the Internet, the success and the ubiquity of such services in the future is assured. Who knows, may be my digital self in 2113 will be still writing these articles and your digital selves will be reading them.
The writer is a tech geek. Email: email@example.com
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