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Columnists

Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills

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I don't know about you, but recently I've found myself thinking a great deal about my legacy. (If you have been thinking a great deal about my legacy, then I thank you, but I think it's time you moved on to other things.) This parlous state of affairs was brought on by the act of finishing yet another book - I've now churned out so many of the darned things that if they all fell off a shelf at the same time they'd create a tidal wave that would destroy the Isle of Wight - and wondering idly to myself, 'What's it all for? Ten years after my demise, will folk the world over still be gathering together on Dixe Wills Night (13th April) to eat vegan tidbits and read out extracts from Places to Hide in England, Scotland and Wales as they do now?' This maudlin desire to be remembered after my passing is something I appear to share with great swathes of humanity, most of whom can never even hope to leave the world with a timeless classic such as Tiny Campsites, and so whose chances of being remembered by anyone at all post mortem are vanishingly slim. Thankfully, as is so often the case, the interwebs is at hand to offer a solution. This column has reported in the past on sites such as DeadSocial (deadsoci.al) which let you leave posthumous farewell messages on social media, and Lives On (liveson.org) which analyses your twitter feed while you're corporeal in order to carry on tweeting for you when you're not. However, these are but trifles when compared with the ambition of the young men behind Eterni.me, a service that launches soon. Under the somewhat overstated rubric 'Simply Become Immortal', Eterni.me offers to generate 'a virtual YOU [their caps], an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends, even after you pass away'. It will do this by hoovering up pretty much everything digital you've ever done - social media posts, e-mails, photos, videos, the lot - and processing it all via some clever and necessarily rather complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms. For best results, you will need to interact with your avatar for as long as you can to make it as much like you before you pop your clogs. Of course, you might spend your life more profitably interacting with real people rather than a crude version of yourself and you'll only be 'immortal' for as long as the Eterni.me servers keep your artificial self going, but let's not dwell on that right now. The knowledge that your great-great-grandchildren will be able to call up your avatar on their GoogApple Thought Screens and ask your views on dialectical materialism and/or what it was like to use a bus will doubtless be a comfort to you as you lounge on your deathbed. Alternatively, you could just indulge in acts of loving kindness and hope they ripple out into the future somehow. I like to think they might.