Pondering A Digital Afterlife
Have you ever received a Facebook notification reminding nudging you to wish Happy Birthday to a deceased friend? It’s an odd experience, almost as if the internet is nudging you to hang out with an old friend. It’s almost, because any interaction is strictly one way.
What if interaction could feel like its two way, and you almost feel like you could see the one you lost?
The below video tells the story of one guys experience playing a computer game against his dead Dads previous best, and at the same time, giving what could be the best reason to play computer games.
The voice over is pulled directly from a YouTube comment that was under a video called, “Can Video Games Be a Spiritual Experience?” Could the above be described as a spiritual experience?
I sometimes wonder what technology would look like in 20 – 30 years time. If people can have experiences like the above with what would now be consider old technology, what does the future hold?
In fact, is (what we might consider) a future technology already happening?
I read a theory a few months ago, that you could argue that human beings are separated into two separate states. One is our physical bodies. The other is our identities, or our souls.
Most (if not all) religions have a concept of an afterlife. A place where the soul lives on, but what if our earthly identity could be captured?
Eternime is one example of a company with plans to help your digital identity live on. They plan to combine everything you put on social media, photos from smart phone, email, and so on – the aim being to create a digital version of yourself, that will be accessible after you die.
According to the BBC website:
“Depending on the facts it has collected, the avatar will be able to offer anything from basic biographical data to being an engaging conversational partner,” says Marius Ursache, Eternime’s founder.
It is set to launch next year, and according to Eternime, more than 37,000 people have already signed up for the service.
Its not just a service like Eternime where this is possible, there is also Facebook.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how I feel about this.
On one hand, I’m not going to be around for ever. Could there be some comfort in having a “digital dad” available online after I’m gone? But what if the service fails? Wouldn’t that be some sort of “second death”? In fact, at the time of writing this on The Church Sofa, the Eterni.me website is down with the error message: “The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.”
Doesn’t the idea of a “second death” sound creepy?
Does the whole thing sound a little creepy? People I’ve spoken to have commented on how weird it sounds. Is weird, because it sounds unnatural? And is it so unnatural, that we’re in danger of not just playing God, but going full blown Black Mirror?
If this new Black Mirror future, is in fact now, how would this impact the church and its teaching? Particularly how we communicate about the afterlife? Somewhere between Heaven and Hell, is there a place for a digital limbo dependent on service contracts?
(A version of this post first appeared on The Dads Sofa)
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