February 27, 2013
This Tweet Brought To You By The Afterlife
A few weeks ago, I signed up to receive a complete archive of all my old Tweets, all 11,000 or so. Going through them, I was able to piece together different parts of my life story during the last five years; meeting the girl who I would soon marry, dumping the girl I was already dating (don’t hate), going to different concerts and making somewhat witty and somewhat insulting comments about the people I encountered at my old job. It was almost a therapeutic experience, digging through a 140-character journal of my life over the past several years, enough to get me all kinds of misty when thinking about the life I’ve recently lived.
Now, I’ve found that there exist algorithms, computer models, robotic voices, which can continue to Tweet in my stead, even after my body has been placed in the ground.
There’s more than one resource for participating in social media once your life has ended.
Oddly enough, it seems the British are particularly interested in continuing an online presence once the afterlife begins. DeadSoci.al and _LIVESON, two such postmortem services, are based in the UK.
Deadsoci.al, for instance, allows its users to send out Facebook and Twitter messages once they’ve passed on to the other side. It’s similar to a collection of mementos that you wish to hand down to your loved ones after you’re deceased. The odd thing about Deadsocai.al, however, is that it requires your loved ones to essentially trigger the service. Three pre-determined loved ones are responsible for telling the service you’ve died. Once this happens, your last words (presumably sent to the same people who reported your death to the service) will be sent out to whomever you wish.
_LIVESON is the service that most interests me. This little artificial intelligence bot begins by watching what you Tweet, learning your particular idioms and sayings, and even the times at which you Tweet. Then, once you’ve passed on, _LIVESON picks up where you’ve left off, hopefully acting as a proper copycat and getting your voice just right.
I’ve already signed up for the service for no other reason than to see if _LIVESON’s robots can learn to Tweet in the same snarky way as I do about music and my fellow coffee shop patrons.
This service also wins the award for best motto: “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.”
It’s an unusual thing to think about your social networking presence after you’ve died. It seems to me that once you’ve expired, so too should your social media presence. However, there’s obviously a desire for people to continue living through their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
In the case of Deadsoci.al, an ominously titled company if ever I’ve heard one, I think it would be nice to receive a message from someone I’ve just lost…but only one message. While I want to see how well a robot can predict what I Tweet, I think it would be most unsettling to have my Twitter account live on after I’ve left this earth.
I’m almost positive my wife would agree with me.
Besides, who would actually want more Tweets in the vein of: “If all these ‘Amish Bands’ are like the 1996 Michael Keaton film Multiplicity, then the Lumineers are the dumb ones who call everyone Steve.”
And that’s a real Tweet.
Image Credit: igor kisselev / Shutterstock