Spooky stuff here. And in case you catch yourself wondering, no, it is not a spoof, it is deadly serious. Hat tip to Shirley Tatum over at The Modern Mourner for this.
[…] young entrepreneur named Max Dougherty is about to release a new social networking service called Envoy — a site hoping to bridge a digital divide that was previously ignored… the one between […]
I don’t like to be harsh, Charles.But.This doesn’t seem to me the same as me talking to my dad, long gone. My call, my thoughts, my fantasies to work through. The active party is me, not something that doesn’t exist, an emotional forgery.
To prolong the illusion of a life electronically seems to me to be very different from talking to someone who is not there any more, which as you say seems to be common and, as I remember, helpful, for a while. Couldn’t it be potentially I feel it could be psychically dangerous for some people, precisely because it could be so realistic? – well, I’ve gone on long enough above.
I think it’s possible to be a little harsh. People talk to their dead a lot and this is simply an extension of that. If my Mum started responding to my FB posts it’d be a game — but a lovely one. So long as she’d been processed through the right algorithms and was close to her as dammit, that is.
Just found this. Much relieved that the GFG group, whilst finding it a very interesting post, gives it the thumbs-down.
It is deadly, because it would prevent people from living here and now. It encourages a fatal illusion. Jonathan is right – it’s simply crap.
It surely won’t help people grieve, I would think it would stop them living through their own bereavement and take them into la-la land. If this is so obvious to us, why isn’t it to the inventors of it? Or maybe they are so amazingly cynical that they agree it’s deadly, but just want to make a buck.In which case, we have to hope it fails dismally and bankrupts them.
Will you Dick-heads please return to here and now, my head is spinning….
You have run away with Dick’s head and not cleaved unto the topic of cyber-seancing. Order, order! Oh, on second thoughts, go on, run with it. I’d never heard of him and now feel enriched.
Happened in 2006 I think. They have now built another one. And yes, fans of his work are indeed called dickheads.
Missing Dickhead? Nah, gotta be a stunt.
I have just found out all about Philip K Dick’s head thanks to a helpful link sent by you! http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/24/movies/24andr.html?emc=eta1
Absurd. Like they read Philip K Dick and didn’t get it. Death denial at it’s weirdest.
Talking of Philip K Dick, I presume, Charles you know about his missing digitised head?
Is it just me or does it sound like they’re ripping off the Dr Who theme tune at around 3.23?
Hi C.B, I think a bit of life before death would come in handy too.
Hi James. I think the Facebook generation is used to getting what it wants instantly. And that probably includes life after death…
I’d be a little less sceptical of this crap if the dead Chelsea had been able to actually drink the glass of wine her boyfriend had poured for her. But what’s he going to do when the cyber-seance is over? It would seem cannibalistic to drink it. Pour it down the drain? Or into her grave, perhaps, now wouldn’t that be romantic?
And if Max Dougherty were to blink more than twice in 5 mins and 20 seconds, I may be able to believe that he was a real human being instead of a product of his own eerie technology. I’m with you all the way, Thomas, and you too, C.B. This dwelling in virtuality is far worse than any narcotic – it can only separate us from ourselves, and by no means connect us with the dead. If the only certainties are birth and death, and if “Envoy” can eliminate the latter with such pleasing results, why be born in the first place when a computer could live our whole life for us and save us all the bother?
Give me the good old down-to-earth misery of real life any day!
It is creepy to me – phoney baloney. But fascinating. I can see it as an extension of the full triplemetal lined coffin and concreted vaults – traditionally common practice in the US.
I wonder if this apparently death denying syndrome extends to the facebook generation?
Great to hear from you, Thomas, your thoughts as interesting and thought-provoking as ever. I especially like your idea of the ghost in the machine.
CB, I know where you’re coming from. I was musing on it and decided the eeriest thing would be to post a status update and then have a dead person ‘like’ it. The voice definitely still has some way to go!
OK… I had to stop watching at 4 mins and 38 seconds when the ‘voice’ response kicked in.
I don’t think this is a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a traditionalist who poo-poo’s new, technological ways of dealing with dying/death/funerals/bereavement/grief etc. But I think this is being clever for clever’s sake. Max starts off by saying there are only two certain things in life – birth and death – but this idea is possibly keeping the bereaved in a ‘suspended’ state and not really moving on from the death of a loved one.
That’s my initial response anyway. But yes, thanks Charles for provoking my thoughts!
Charles, very provocative indeed – albeit only in a pessimistic sense.
The development of an application like this certainly opens up lots of questions on the level of reality-awareness of our society.
Certainly, the great majority of our so-called “free human behaviors” are nothing more than the mechanical reactions of man-machines; this aspect of a person is thus utterly predictable and usable by applications like this to “reanimate” the dead through algorithms of their past patterns.
But machines, including man-machines, cannot be reanimated, since they are intrinsically dead. They can only be replayed, as a recording is replayed. This will probably be ignored or overlooked by most for two reasons. Firstly, they do not understand that an overwhelming part of our nature is mechanical, thus spiritually dead, and that this is all that Facebook can capture and “re-animate”. Secondly, even if they suspect as much, many may prefer the comforting illusion that a loved one continues to live on as a “ghost in the machine” – though it is in fact not a ghost but merely the product of an algorithm.
In its essence, this development is merely a highly developed reflection of the illusion of life in the virtual world, which hypnotizes so many in this society. The virtual digital world will never replicate or substitute the material world of the living – or the spiritual world of the dead.
Super when you find thought-provoking gems like this!
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