One of the most intriguing ideas, that has caught the popular imagination as well as popular interest is whether or not we will one day be able to upload our mind to a computer to later have it downloaded to some future hardware and be digitally resurrected. Movies and TV shows such as Transcendence (2014), Black Mirror (2013), Self/Less (2015), Avatar (2009), and even the Simpsons (Days of Future Future, 2014) all raise in different ways (and with different outcomes) the possibility of uploading ones mind to a computer. The cultural context to all of this is one of new-enchantment with technology, with high hopes as well as fears regarding where technological progress might lead us - studies in molecular biology and human longevity, nano-robots for curing disease and self-driving cars - all feed into this popular discourse and imagination regarding the possibilities and the limits of technology and digital media and the extent to which it might change our lives.
I've recently come across this brilliant video, created by Tom Scott (click here to view Tom's personal website) titles: Welcome to Life: The Singularity Ruined by Lawyers, reflecting on the potential practicalities of how it might look like if we could actually one day experience a form of digital resurrection. What does it actually mean to upload our mind? To transform our personality into data? What does it require from us and what are the meanings and implications of thinking of our minds as computers?
I think some of the points raised in this brilliant video are important and interesting. Would love to hear your thoughts about it!
I recently had the honour to do a TEDx talk as part of the London Central School of Speech and Drama TEDx event with the theme The Next Stage. In my talk I presented some of the things I've been thinking about working on my project. There were mainly three things I tried to convey in my talk:
1. The ways in which these exciting and innovative technologies and affordances are actually closely linked to much earlier communication technologies and social practices.
2. Why for so many of us, the first reaction to these possibilities is "that's so creepy!" and how not-creepy-at-all it is when you think a bit longer about what it could feel like to be using some of these platforms.
3. In one way or another, we're already creating our digital legacies and online afterlives and if that is the case, perhaps we should at least give some thought to how we want to manage it - even if we prefer to manage it by completely erasing any aspect of our digital footprint.
So what would you choose?
Here's the video of my talk, let me know your thoughts!
For centuries the relationship between communication technologies and death has inspired all kinds of creative work: technological development, popular fantasies, popular cultural artefacts, death-related practices and academic research.
Contemporary communication technologies and newly emerging practices of use of digital media are no exception.
We've seen recently many popular texts expressing some of these fantasies about digital media and death (think about television series Black Mirror, the movie Transcendence, or the book Kiss Me First - to give a few examples).
At the same time, in recent years there is a growth in the scope and variety of death-related practices online, most seem and are experienced very differently comparing to how they are configured in the popular imagination.
Are digital media changing the way we die? Are they changing the way we mourn and remember? These are some of the questions addressed by scholars studying this newly emerging and fascinating field of death-related digital practices.
What do you think?