Technology Breathes New Life into Death

What’s your online legacy?

With the evolution of technology, as a society we are becoming more and more engrossed in the online world. Social networks are a huge part of our everyday lives, virtually all banking can be done online, almost every utility and bill service offers a ‘paperless’ billing (convenient AND eco-friendly). The majority of business and interpersonal communication is done virtually, on the web – by 2020 there will be essentially no reason to ever talk to another human face to face.

Maybe a little extreme (or maybe not) – I wont go all tech-apocalypse on you guys – but with technology already a huge part of our everyday LIVES,  it’s becoming more and more important to consider our online affairs once we move on to the afterlife.

Think about all of the social networks you’re a part of – what about all you’re passwords for online finance management? Consider all of the connections, friendships, and relationships you’ve established in various online communities. While online legacies are becoming increasingly prominent to a person’s ‘real’ life – how will your online affairs be held accountable once you die? How can the news be passed along to the individuals ‘online community’. Enter web-based ‘death alert service’ DeathSwitch.

RE: Are you alive?

Deathswitch allows a person essentially upload a limitless amount of online information. Passwords, bank account information, social networking connections, and so on. Want to pass along your password information to your significant other, maybe you have a secret you want people to know once you pass away. Deathswitch allows you to upload both text and media (video/audio recordings) that will be automatically sent out once the site has been notified of your death.

A deathswitch is an automated system that prompts you for your password on a regular schedule to make sure you are still alive. When you do not enter your password for some (set) period of time, the system prompts you again several times. With no reply, the computer deduces you are dead or critically disabled, and your pre-scripted message and information are automatically emailed to those named by you.

There are some slightly less morbid online services that don’t send the ‘Are you still alive?’ emails (Slightly Morbid, for example, sends e-mails when a member dies, but does not rely on them logging in periodically to confirm there existence – instead, members give family or friends the information needed to log in and start the notification process). Just make sure you trust the people you give your information to – wouldn’t want someone claiming your dead and setting free all your deepest darkest secrets while you’re still alive and kicking.

Technology is truly effecting everything in life (and now death). How do you feel about these online ‘death notification’ services? Can technology go ‘too far’? Is there any end in site to the services modern technology can continue to provide?