Living And Dying The Online Way

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These days it seems that just about anything you can think of has already been done online, including the morbid topic of death related services. Apparently there is a quietly burgeoning industry of post mortem service providers that will, for an appropriate fee, take care of winding up your online affairs or “estate” after you […]

These days it seems that just about anything you can think of has already been done online, including the morbid topic of death related services. Apparently there is a quietly burgeoning industry of post mortem service providers that will, for an appropriate fee, take care of winding up your online affairs or “estate” after you pass on.
According to a couple of articles posted on Wired Magazine and Virtual Shadows blogs, these online services provide ways for the deceased, (i.e. presumably your good self), to specify / ensure how and to whom various online assets, personalities, and / or authentication information may be bequeathed – before death of course! Interestingly, the services described range from the straight-forward secure storage of vital access information, to the more “Sci-Fi meets espionage” auto death switch that automatically releases a payload of vital information should the subscriber repeatedly fail to check in with the service. The ultimate revenge you might say!
On a certain level, this is not an altogether surprising development, considering that this first generation of mainstream Internet users have already experienced and expressed all facets of their lives online, so why not post mortem? As the Wired Magazine article suggests, things may really start to get weird if and when we get services dedicated to preserving and continuing the identities / interactions of otherwise deceased folk. Hmmm, certainly makes one wonder how long it will take for some bright spark to figure out a way to use suitably Turing Tested Artificial Intelligence programmes, (based on the deceased’s personality traits), to do this in perpetuity.
So who wants to live forever?
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Jude Umeh is a senior consultant and enterprise architect in Capgemini, and you can follow him on Twitter
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