More dead than alive

At some point soon we’ll start having an awful lot of dead people around. I’m very sure Google and other search engines will start to filter for deceased people search. It won’t be long at at until we have way more dead people online than live people online.

That’s a thought I never thought about. But it may be true.

But what would even be more memorialistic(?) is if we could have online versions of ourselves running around the online world commenting and participating, as if we were alive.

I remember thinking this when I saw “I, Robot”, where Will Smith talks to a holographic 2D projection of a dead investigator for clues, but the investigator can only reply to what he knew up to the point of his death.

Though I’m not sure we can recreate something like what’s in the movie, it’s not infeasible to be able to feed all the text archived in all your chat logs, emails, wall posts, and status messages into some machine learning algorithm so given some text directed at you, it would be able to generate what you would mostly likely say in reply. It may be just an elaborate hidden markov model or something else, but either way, just a elaborate quote machine–that quotes you.

It could be a service that you’d go to, in order to talk to someone dead–like at an oracle, shrine, or memorial. Or it would be a service that let your personality loose online and your facsimile would participate in the diggs, reddits, and facebooks of the day.

I don’t even want to think about what this would mean for future religious figures born today. Imagine if you could talk to Jesus or Budda’s quote machine.

It’s a bit creepy, to be able to talk to a facsimile of a dead person. But it could be it’s just because we’re not use to the idea. I suppose it’s the same as when photographs came out and you could see dead people.

However, just as the dead can’t reach out from photographs to the present, quote machines of the dead wouldn’t be able to reach out from the past into the present. At least, I don’t know that they should.

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