LISBON 10-12
APRIL 2014
LISBON 10-12
APRIL 2014

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Talks > Scripting your way to (im)mortality

Status

This talk has been approved for this year's edition. Check the calendar for more information.

Language

English

Abstract

So now that you are dead… what are you going to do?

Probably you want to let everybody now that you are dead so they can mourn you. That dead man's switch cron task you’ve been running for years will finally trigger some action! First thing first: you’ll need a proof of death. Like a link to a public obituary. No fancy API for your local newspaper so your script must scrape the obituaries section looking for your name. As backup option –backup options… you smart bastard– your cron task have published a last post in your blog. It could interpreted as a joke and not accepted as proof but is better than nothing. Ok, let’s autofill that form to turn your Facebook into a memorial. They don’t allow to report yourself as dead so in the combo “Relationship to the deceased person” the script will select “Immediate family”. Umm… HTTP 500 after posting. Not good. Let aunt Thelma take care of Facebook.

Google will be easier. Their algorithms are already counting the days to execute the policy you set in the Inactive Account Manager. Because that product will not be discontinued like… Google Reader. Or iGoogle. Or Wave. Right? Twitter and Flickr ask for an official death certificate. Since your government does not provide an automated way to get it that’s another dead end… Tidying up your digital identity for eternity is hard.

Maybe you should try another approach. What about keeping yourself digitally alive? You could start by posting in Twitter your death. What about tracking the stats about your followers count after the announcement? An algorithmically generated monthly review of these numbers in your blog will be awesome! But then… should you relay on external free platforms (that can disappear overnight) or host your own services (and find a way to pay them after your death)? And if you choose your own then…

                                                      ⁂

Every single provider of a digital service and a massive increasing number of users will need a deceased policy in the near future. It’s not easy to accept, but there are _very high_ probabilities all the people attending this talk will be dead at some point.

In this talk, I’ll reflect in the consequences of this universal fact and what it means for developers the two more usual reactions: acceptance (digital legacies, current policies of different services, digital executors…) and denial (options of pseudo-afterlife with bots, long term thinking for services & providers…). I’ll primarily focus in the situation and possibilities provided by the actual technological landscape (no science-fiction AIs, sorry) and explain the in-progress initiatives on this area.

As software eats the world and changes our lives creating new experiences, we’ll need to find digital metaphors and practices to accommodate one of the processes that has been with us since the dawn of time: death.

Proposal date

2014-01-29 19:37:11

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Comments

Ricardo Jorge de Jesus Silva
on , said:

Seems like an interesting topic, never thought of this possibility.

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Carlos Rodrigues
on , said:

Philosophy meets technology, looks interesting.

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João Ricardo Lourenço
on , said:

Must have been one of the first abstracts to really teleport me to the topic instantly. I will be sure to try not to miss it!

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Ricardo Jorge de Jesus Silva, Thanks, that's one of the main reasons for doing the talk :).

+Carlos Rodrigues, Thanks I'd try to show how those areas converge.

+João Ricardo Lourenço, I'm flattered… really thank you.

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Tiago Rorke
on , said:

An important topic. Your abstract is a bit long-winded but I still upvoted. Sounds like a good presentation/discussion.

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Tiago Rorke
on , said:

An important topic. Your abstract is a bit long-winded but I still upvoted. Sounds like a good presentation/discussion.

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Tiago Rorke, Thank you. I knew it was slightly too long compared to the average but still found it was need to set the scene for the reader.

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Inês Coelho
on , said:

It creeps me out when I find dead guys still on facebook or linkedin.. it's even worse when their loved ones turn their social pages into a shrine (not the best way to deal with their passing, in my opinion).. :/ Everybody tiptoes around this (no one likes to think about death) but it certaintly needs some legislation.

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Marco Amado
on , said:

This abstract is just awesome. Upvoted as much for the topic as for the abstract.

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Alberto Manuel da Silva Gomes
on , said:

Tenho muita curiosidade neste tema.
Espero poder assistir.

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Pedro Gustavo Torres
on , said:

Attending this one for sure!

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Joaquim José Agostinho Mendes
on , said:

Sounds strangely interesting.

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Diogo Emanuel Marques da Silva
on , said:

Upvoted ! You got a point , strange but interesting !!

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Bruno Caceiro
on , said:

Upvoted! Looking forward for this one!

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Jorge Encarnação
on , said:

Seems like an interesting topic, in a way it makes little sense that someone's profile on a social network goes and on after the user dies.

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Inês Coelho, Well… one of the basic problems today is that we lack any kind of convention on how to _acknowledge_ the death of someone on digital contexts, the ability to recognize that someone is dead: profiles stay the same, timelines appear frozen without any clear reason, periodical notifications keep being sent… Obviously this creates a huge dissonance in people when they realize the situation.

Once we find and set conventions and practices for that it’ll easier to behave accordingly, in the same way most people avoid cemeteries and some people –even great writers– find a long walk on them terribly inspiring and humbling.

And personally, I agree with you about the urgent need for legislation and the noxiousness of not letting people go… but again mourning the loved ones has been a complex —and very personal— experience for millennia. What I want to explore in my talk is precisely the new context created by technology and tools that we as developers have introduce in the daily lives of millions.

+Marco Amado, Thank you very much Marco. I really appreciated it.

+Pedro Gustavo Torres, Thanks!

+Joaquim José Agostinho Mendes, +Diogo Emanuel Marques da Silva, I know what you mean :) but precisely one of the key reasons for doing this talk is that most developers find death as something totally orthogonal to their work. However I find it is one of the key, universal factors that determines people lives and therefore in how we should develop the software they use. And I want to clarify that I mean that in a practical, absolutely not philosophical way, eg. the fact that we store personal data of users means that we *should* for both legally and pragmatic reasons think about what to do with it once the user is not with us.

+Jorge Encarnação, Umm… I think that is _very controversial_ opinion. After all remember that through History millions of people have devoted massive amounts of time to write down their diaries, create sculptures and paintings of themselves, collect family pictures and, in a million other ways, capture the essence of their memories and lives so that future generations can know about them. That is in fact how we grasp the real _zeitgeist_ of different periods. Digital devices and contexts will very probably not change that.


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Ana Figueiras
on , said:

Awesome topic. Wish I could upvote more than once.

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Nuno Saraiva
on , said:

O meu comentário é igual ao do + João Ricardo Lourenço, acho super interessante.

Na realidade já tinha tido um pensamento macabro sobre isso sem a complexidade de um bot, mas o simples agendamento de posts futuros num blog.

Um blogger que escreva regularmente um post por dia, agendados dia sim dia não a começar no dia em que fizer 60 anos, se os fizer dos 30 aos 60 pode estar a publicar posts até aos 120 anos.

É mais uma questão para pensar, menos técnica, mas relacionada com o problema.

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Miguel Duarte
on , said:

This talk looks awesome!

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Ana Figueiras, Thank you very much!!

+Nuno Saraiva In fact –sorry for the reply in english, I can understand and speak some portuguese by can’t really write :)– as mentioned before, once one starts thinking about afterlife in this context, I think there are both technical and non-technical issues: does it makes any sense to “fake” activity? if the activity is generated based on an algorithm you’ve written, is it in some way “real” activity? If our desire is long term archival of our post… can we relay on free and/or external services? etc.

+Miguel Duarte, Thanks!!

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Ramon Gama Rodrigues
on , said:

Never thought about it until now, what happens to my digital self when $(this).life() returns 0?

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Ramon Gama Rodrigues, Exactly. The whole point of this talk is to explore the different options, possibilities and actual context to answer this question.

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Damien Guedes Rosa
on , said:

Upvoted !

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Aitor Garcia
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+ Damien Guedes Rosa, Thank you Damien!

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David Magalhães
on , said:

I like this ideia. I was thinking in building something similar.

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Nuno Costa
on , said:

I just realized that I never thought of that! Great topic for sure, upvote!

Btw loved the abstract

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Nuno Costa, Hi Nuno, Thank you very, very much for your comment. I hope to get the opportunity to finally talk at the conference and share these thought with all of you.

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Tiago André Santos Casqueira
on , said:

Controversial theme but really up to date since new technologies are around for next decades and death will always be a certainty for human beings. Upvoted!

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Tiago André Santos Casqueira, thank you!

I understand that death is a complicated issue, both by the its human connotations and the social taboo involved, but as you said it has been an inherent, vital part of human experience for a **veeery long** and technology should reflect on that fact and its implications.

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Andre Duarte
on , said:

No way I can miss this! Up, up, up!

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Aitor Garcia
on , said:

+ Andre Duarte, :blush: XD

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