TED Conversations

Adam Ostrow

Executive Editor, Mashable


This conversation is closed.

LIVE CHAT With Adam Ostrow: What should happen to your digital identity after you die?

The average social media user will create hundreds of thousands of pieces of content in their lifetime. Already, this is changing the way we remember our loved ones and creating a legacy that is much different than that of any previous generation.

At the same time, technology's ability to understand vast amounts of data is expanding exponentially, and in the long run, enabling the possibility of leveraging our social media footprint to create a version of us that can live on long after we're gone.

What do you want to have happen to your digital identity after you die? Would you give an AI permission to post content and interact online after your death? Why or why not?

ADMIN UPDATE: This LIVE CHAT will open on August 9, 2011 at 2PM EST/ 5PM PST.


Closing Statement from Adam Ostrow

A few thoughts in closing:

(1) There's a large interest in people assigning an executor for their digital assets after they die. A number of startups already serve this need. One issue with this though -- what happens when the services noted in the will change, close, get acquired, etc? That will create similar issues to the ambiguous wills of today.

(2) Lots of questions about whether or not the complete recreation of ones self, which I forecast towards the end of my talk, could make it more challenging to find closure. Outside of that, however, it at the very least seems like an intriguing opportunity for future generations to get to know their ancestors.

(3) In thinking about this topic, it's important to remember that the social media tools of today are incredibly primitive compared to what we'll be using in the future. The type of data we'll be capturing 5, 10 or 50 years from now is what's needed to make an AI-powered scenario realistic.

(4) Thanks to those that shared their personal stories of already dealing with these issues. It's a huge help in thinking about the topic going forward.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Aug 9 2011: It's a very personal decision. Like what you would want to happen to your body. Everyone is entitled to their decision in the matter. I find the idea of an interactive AI, set up with all of your previous preferences making previous choice based decisions, very interesting. Would it be based off of a psychoanalytical breakdown of oneself, doing a personal psychohistory analysis to forecast future decisions?
    • thumb
      Aug 9 2011: Psychohistory would definitely be important, and I don't think the type of content most of us are producing today using social media would be enough to accurately forecast how someone might react to various situations (like the comical inaccuracy of the My Next Tweet example).

      But I think when you consider how much social media has evolved in the past 10 years and how it might evolve in the next 50 (think about the visual/audio data you'll be able to capture) it becomes possible and creates the notion of "artificial you" scenario that I ended my talk on.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.