Most of us are waiting for the grave, so we’ll never have to speak to anyone again. Unfortunately, science believes that we’ll soon be able to speak to the dead via AI. Just let us rest.
Friendship, as meme-lore states, is a series of missed “catch-ups” until one of you die. Which is very much true, and long may it stand, but what happens after one of you shuffle loose this mortal (wireless) coil?
Well, for those anti-social types who are hoping that the sweet release of death will forever bail you out of conversations/obligations, think again, mopes, for science believes that we’re not that far removed from conversing with the dead.
The way forward in this regard is the mobilization of an army of “griefbots,” blank canvasses filled with the brushstrokes of your digital footprint while you walked the earth. The question (other than, Why?) is, How much data do they need?
Hossein Rahnama of Ryerson Univerity believes it to be about one trillion gigabytes, colloquially known as a “zettabyte.” In conversation with Quartz, Hossein said, “Fifty or sixty years from now, Millennials will have reached a point in their lives where they each will have collected a zettabyte (of selfie-data), which is just what is needed to create a digital version of yourself.”
The bristle of our age immediately sweeps in with the question of, Who will be handling our cold, dead, e-corpses? To that end, Hossein planted, “… we have to consider an individual’s privacy when it comes to passing on virtual profiles. You should be able to own your data and only pass it along to people you trust, so allowing people to engage with their own ancestors would be likely.”
It makes sense. This paranoia that random people will reach out to you beyond the grave is foolish. I mean, if the eight billion people on the planet didn’t register your existence when you’re alive, why would they bother when you’re dead?
To be honest, it does elevate a series of odd questions, which tie in with a series of philosophical thoughts. Baudrillard warned of the Simulacra and Simulation, where the copy takes over the meaning of the original; or Kierkegaard’s theory where one must accept death only after you get over yourself and admit you’re unimportant. That being said, they’re both dead.
So, arguably, we could implement the above technology and ask their digital corpses what they think of it.
Tell you what, though. I like the idea of the living* breathing* time capsule, that seems endlessly worthwhile. A reactive link to the past. We’re living through an insane time, and forget it we should not. I’d be happy to articulate the rise of musicians that doodle on their own faces, and certainly why kids ate washing machine detergent. Oh, and the whole rise of populism. And that orange Donkey Kong. Ask me anything.
I just hope the whole thing isn’t reduced to, So, what have you been up to?
I’ve been fucking dead for 187 years, Karen.