In class we talked frequently about our social media accounts after we died. We were interested in knowing whether the black mirror episode could become true in our lifetime. Later in the class, we created morbid social media services that would cater to different aspects of our life after we die. Although we all laughed awkwardly talking about these social media projects- come on, “DeadBook” or a tree-planting service for our bodies, really?- Dr. Sample suggested that many of these sites probably already existed.
I was interested in seeing whether these applications and websites did actually exist so I looked into it. The first one I found, called “LivesOn” was first created to tweet for you when you were busy doing other things. But then the marketers realized they could make more money and buzz if they advertised it for the dead. Their tagline was “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.” Unfortunately, it seems like the app only spliced together your old tweets to provide an unintelligible string of something that sounds like you. I believe it failed after people realized the tweets were unintelligible, but this service mirrors almost exactly what one group brainstormed in class.
I actually found many different sites that promised to tweet after you died, or upload a video to Facebook if you died, and things similar to that- but many of them had failed and their websites led nowhere. (One was even called “DeadSocial“, so we were close with DeadBook or DeadSpace!)
It made me wonder why people were either against this idea, or why these projects kept failing. Let’s preface this by saying I have no idea, but I think it’s likely because of two reasons. Either the technology is so far off from the infamous black mirror episode that it is impossible to “recreate” you without reliable Artificial Intelligence. Or second, that people are against the idea of reading/interacting with people like that after they died. That there is something disingenuous and fake about interacting with a robot pretending to be a human rather than having their own self-created personality. It would get really boring interacting with a personality or avatar that you know someone else created, right? We’ve always thought of technology as a force that makes our lives easier or more manageable, but never thought of it as its own being. So if we create artificial personalities, it just seems that we would never really get over that unless the personalities create themselves.