Is The Cyber Life Infinite?
April 12, 2010 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Novel Research Filter: Any ideas about how to have a continuous internet presence after death. I'm not just wondering about keeping blogs and facebook, Metafilter open but generating actual content.

Asterisk* I am not contemplating my own death nor I am ill or near death. I am looking for ideas related to actual technology, about how one might live on indefinitely, on the internet, after ones physical body has died, without a living intermediary.
posted by Xurando to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Live in-coffin webcam?
posted by Cogito at 3:40 PM on April 12, 2010

I think it would matter if you mean present day, near-future, distant-future technology.
posted by whiskeyspider at 3:41 PM on April 12, 2010

Are we talking the whole Videodrome bit with Brian O'Blivion, wherein his words are endlessly remixed, but there's nobody actually home, or are you going for full-on "I think, therefore I am," granted by bush robots deconstructing living brains to upload minds?
posted by adipocere at 3:44 PM on April 12, 2010

hook up various air quality/ gas emission monitoring devices in your coffin and assign their readout values to words, resulting in a William S. Burroughs-esque word salad that you're genuinely writing as you rot.
posted by dong_resin at 3:45 PM on April 12, 2010 [12 favorites]

Mind Uploading
posted by fellion at 4:02 PM on April 12, 2010

This was done in Philip K Dick's Ubik.

An excerpt from the Wiki summary:

"Runciter runs the company with the assistance of his deceased wife Ella, who is kept in a state of 'half-life', a form of cryonic suspension that gives the deceased person limited consciousness and communication ability."
posted by alligatorman at 4:04 PM on April 12, 2010

There's a cool bit in this episode of Radiolab about a young man who died and his mother who kept his blog going, among other examples you seek.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:07 PM on April 12, 2010

If you had a profitable blog with a defined, but anonymous, personality (e.g. Fake Steve Jobs, pre-outing Washingtonienne, etc.), or happen to be someone whose fame or notability is mostly restricted to cyberspace, and doesn't have a history of physical-world speaking engagements, I could easily see how you could sell or will your blog — and your identity — to someone else on your death.

I'm sure this has happened in the pre-blog world, although I can't think of any examples off the top of my head. (Weren't the original Hardy Boys novels written by a real guy, but then began being written by ghostwriters under his name instead?)

There are doubtless people who feel that their blog and their online "presence" (and the income stream it generates or could generate, with advertising) is their most valuable asset. I could easily see a 'management' industry arising that would take over notable blogs on their owners deaths, provide ghostwritten content for them and keep traffic coming, and split the profits with the deceased's heirs.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:36 PM on April 12, 2010

I just described what I wrote above to a friend, and their response was:

"Oh, you mean like the Dread Pirate Roberts?"

So there's your canonical example right there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:38 PM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]

There's a story called Death Switch in David Eagleman's very excellent Sum that's about just this.
posted by merocet at 4:39 PM on April 12, 2010

In a lot of blogging software, you can schedule posts, so I suppose you could write up a lot of blog posts before you die and have them scheduled way into the future. I don't know how long specific blog sites keep accounts open. You also couldn't guarantee that the specific blogging software would be around forever.
posted by wsquared at 4:52 PM on April 12, 2010

That happens in the anime Serial Experiments Lain.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:13 PM on April 12, 2010

Please read David Eagleman's short (1 page!) story "Death Switch" (PDF). If that interests you, we were just talking about him.
posted by Houstonian at 5:26 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

(The link I gave doesn't work for me right now; if that's true for you please see it at Google Books.)
posted by Houstonian at 5:28 PM on April 12, 2010

In Asimov's Foundation, the main researcher leaves video messages for the Foundation to review at set intervals, long after his passing, which he generated based on his mathematical-based assumptions of where society was. Also, I need to reread the entire Foundation series, since it's amazing.
posted by disillusioned at 6:19 PM on April 12, 2010

This is pretty much what Caprica is about (so far,) so you may want to check it out if you haven't already.
posted by bdk3clash at 6:59 PM on April 12, 2010

You could get your personal genome decoded and automate it so one of your DNA base pairs is uploaded to every month.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:31 PM on April 12, 2010

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