The future of human death seems increasingly bound to digital technology and the internet. Indeed, a whole field of study called 'Digital Death' seeks to address these issues. Understanding these implications is both practical and futuristic, in ways that make many people uncomfortable, especially when it becomes clear that very little, if any, of our current human digital content will ever remain accessible for future generations.
But how did our long ago relatives in the early 1990s imagine what death on the web might be like? And how do concepts of future internet technology potentially shape what ‘being dead’ will mean in the near future if and when an individual’s social media accounts recreate that person after they die? Who cares? And who is making money off it?
The future of human mortality is much less about whether or not our digital lives can be preserved after we die. The real question is whether and if that scenario is desirable.
We are delighted to welcome Dr John Troyer, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. He is a co-founder of the Death Reference Desk website, the Future Cemetery Project and a frequent commentator for the BBC. His fortcoming book Technologies of the Human Corpse will be published by MIT Press in April 2020.