Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Internet from the Great Beyond

An article in the local newspaper (yes, I still read them) had a story about the use of quick response or QR codes on headstones in the cemetery. QR codes are those little square boxes appearing in all manner of printed media these days. They are another form of bar code that smart phones with a camera and QR reader software can decipher. The  article described a new service inscribing your headstone with a QR code that could link to a web site containing your obituary, a  special message for your friends and loved ones, or a complete archive of your life. Creative, if not a bit morbid.

Then I listened to Adam Ostrow's TED talk "after your final status update" and quickly realized this merely scratched the surface (no pun intended.) Apparently, death does not have to be the end of your social networking activity. There is an entire industry springing up to keep you, or rather your thoughts and memories alive long after you are gone.

Deceased celebrities like Michael Jackson routinely place among the top Twitter accounts followed by hundreds of thousands of people. But now there is If I Die.net to help you prepare your final message and keep your Facebook or other social network alive and kicking, even after you are not. In just a couple of simple steps you can prepare a message which will appear on your Facebook page at a predetermined time following your demise.

As if that is not enough, the truly spooky part is work being done to embed the essence of your knowledge, experience and viewpoints into artificial intelligence. With the average Facebook user contributing 90 pieces of content each month and the massive data analysis capabilities at our disposal, over time we just may be able to learn enough about a person to have Facebook continue posting with their views and personality after they are gone.

There are religions that profess and many people who believe in reincarnation. Depending on the kind of life you lead, you may return to the earth in some inanimate object, as an animal or live another human life. Now, those who worship technology can also expect one day to be reborn as a "bot" - a piece of software that acts, thinks and contributes content or comments to columns like this one.

Granny, do you have any thoughts on this?

Captain Joe

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