chapter  7
17 Pages

Looking to the future of life after death

ByMichael Arnold, Martin Gibbs, Tamara Kohn, James Meese, Bjorn Nansen

This chapter examines how a range of companies are looking to the future and mobilising digital technologies to facilitate posthumous personhood and to help customers reimagine the ontological possibilities for animating the deceased. It explores how the speculative future services operate and also examines their ambitions. The chapter also explores their social and cultural implications. People have long planned for a social afterlife by writing autobiographies, leaving personal letters and diaries, curating and burying time-capsules, or compiling audio and video recordings to be used when dead. The move from a digital isomorph acting on one's behalf in daily life, to digital isomorph continuing to act on one's behalf after death, is surely not a huge move. Technologies do not cause particular responses to death, and death does not cause particular configurations of technologies. The transience of social media platforms and of particular social media memorials has illustrated the importance of temporality to an understanding of digital media and death.