What if you could be remembered forever?

“What if all the important events, adventures and thoughts in your life would be accessible to future generations, who never met the real you? Eterni.me collects almost everything that you create during your lifetime, and processes this huge amount of information using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Then it generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends, even after you pass away.”

I heard about this service from a segment of the On the Media podcast (link below). Evan Carroll is co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” I signed up for the service, which doesn’t seem to have launched yet.

The Great Mystery

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” — Stephen Hawking

I think I am less afraid of the dark than at previous times in my life and –fortunately– none of us can know what is on the other side of That Door. (I’m closing comments on this post because I’m in no mood to hear anyone’s deeply held beliefs. Believe what we will, we cannot know. But we can speculate and here (in no particular order) are a few I’ve been collecting over the years.

“We’ll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves, we’ll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze, we’ll be glittering in the dew under the stars and moon out there in the physical world which is our true home and always was.” — His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

“You’re a collection of molecules and those molecules are made of smaller bits, and those bits are made of even smaller bits. The smallest bits in the universe are all identical. You are made of the same stuff as the concrete in the floor and the fly on the window. Your basic matter cannot be created or destroyed. All that will survive of what you call you life is the sum of your actions. Some might call the unending ripple effect of those actions a soul, or a spirit.” – The Religion War by Scott Adams

“When you die, it is said you see your whole life. But you don’t see it minute by minute, like a speeded-up film. It’s like everything you ever did in all your days was a brushstroke, and now you see the whole painting all at once.” — Lawrence Block’s Everybody Dies

I wonder how it all got started, this business about seeing your life flash before your eyes while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence, could startle time into such compression, crushing decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.
From The Art of Drowning by Billy Collins

You’re going to stay here for a week. Everyone gets a private room. Please feel at home. But while you’re here there’s one thing you must do. Out of the __ years of your life, we’d like to ask you to choose one memory, the one you remember and cherish most. There is a time limit. You have three days to decide. After you choose your memory, our staff will recreate it on film as exactly as possible. On Saturday we’ll show the films to everyone. The moment the memory comes back to you most vividly, you’ll go on to the other side, taking only that memory. — From the motion picture After Life

“Imagine that existence is like a sound recording. Listening to an old phonograph doesn’t alter the recording itself, and depending on where the needle is placed, you hear a certain piece of music. This is what we call the present. The music, before and after the song now being heard, is what we call the past and the future. Imagine, in like manner, every moment and day enduring in nature always. The record does not go away. All nows (all the songs on the record) exist simultaneously, although we can only experience the world (or the record) piece by piece. We do not experience time in which “Stardust” often plays, because we experience time linearly.” — Biocentrism by Robert Lanza (with Bob Berman)

“In spiritual terms the cycle of birth and rebirth is a workshop for making creative leaps of the soul. The natural and the supernatural are not doing different things but are involved in transformation on separate levels. At the moment of death the ingredients of your old body and old identity disappear. Your DNA and everything it created devolve back to their simple component parts. Your memories dissolve back into raw information. None of this raw material is simply recombined to produced a slightly altered person. To produce a new body capable of making new memories, the person who emerges must be new. You do not acquire a new soul, because the soul doesn’t have content. It’s not “you” but the center around which “you” coalesces, time after time. It’s your zero point.” — Deepak Chopra, Life After Death

Private Funerals Now Streamed Online

New York Times: Several software companies have created easy-to-use programs to help funeral homes cater to bereaved families. FuneralOne a one-stop shop for online memorials that is based in St. Clair, Mich., has seen the number of funeral homes offering Webcasts increase to 1,053 in 2010, from 126 in 2008 (it also sells digital tribute DVDs).

During that same period, Event by Wire, a competitor in Half Moon Bay, Calif., watched the number of funeral homes live-streaming services jump to 300 from 80. And this month, the Service Corporation International in Houston, which owns 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries said it was conducting a pilot Webcasting program at 16 of its funeral homes.

Digital Life After Death

“Future.tk is a social network with an online messaging service that lets anyone schedule messages up to 50 years in advance. Using the free post-mortem feature, it can also schedule messages to be sent to recipients after a death. To use this feature, the sender must select trusted sources to notify Futuris.tk of their passing, after which your messages can be sent.”

What do you believe?

Our world (if you are a one-world sort of person) view is shaped by many things. Genetics, early programming, people we meet and experiences we have along the way. And –for me– ideas I encounter in the books I read.

It’s unlikely anyone is going to ask me what I believe (for which I am grateful) but I’m ready. Just in case. The answer(s) –if it is anywhere– is somewhere in these books.

  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  • Buddha’s Brain – Rick Hansen
  • His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
  • Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul – Deepak Chopra
  • God Theory – Bernard Haisch
  • Quantum Eniga: Physics Encounters Consciousness
  • Biocentrism – Robert Lanza
  • The Ultimate Happiness Prescription – Deepak Chopra
  • Jesus Interrupted – Bart D. Ehrman
  • God’s Debris – Scott Adams
  • The Singularity Is Near – Ray Kurzweil
  • The Voice of Knowledge – Don Miguel Ruiz
  • This Perfect Day – Ira Levin
  • Peace Is the Way – Deepak Chopra
  • The Book of Secrets – Deepak Chopra
  • Life After Death – Deepak Chopra
  • The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
  • The Religion War – Scott Adams
  • The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

As I think about this, it occurs to me that understanding why might be as important as what we believe.

His Dark Materials

Just finished Northern Lights, the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. As we used to say back in the sixties, “Heavy.”

I’ve caught parts of The Golden Compass (the book’s North American title) on cable and wanted to see how the movie compared to the novel. Very well, it turns out. I’m eager to get on to Books 2 and 3.

I enjoyed most of the Harry Potter books –and it’s probably unfair to compare the two– but Pullman challenges readers in a way that Ms. Rowling never did.

Definitely on the short list for the next church bonfire.

UPDATE: Finished the third book today and I’m a little numb. I read somewhere that Pullman wrote the book for “young adults.” I’m not sure what that means… teenagers? Younger? Whatever, I wish I had read the book in my teens, although I’m not sure how much I would have understood. Maybe that’s the point.

I thought it was a terrific story. Life and Death; Sin and Redemption; Good and Evil; Witches and Angles. And a less-than-attractive view of religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. Easy to see why they weren’t keen on a sequel to The Golden Compass.

If you learned everything you needed to know in Sunday School, you can skip this book but I found the book to be very spiritual and mostly uplifting. A couple of quotes:

“I felt as if something they all passionately believed in depended on me carrying on with something I didn’t.” pg 954

“We’ll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves, we’ll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze, we’ll be glittering in the dew under the stars and moon out there in the physical world which is our true home and always was.” pg 854

“If you wanted to divert a mighty river into a different course, and all you had was a single pebble, you could do it as long as you put the pebble in the right place to send the first trickle of water that way instead of this.”

Dwight Schrute on how to “deal” with the elderly

“Unfortunately, humanity seems to lack the backbone to demand that the elderly continue to contribute until they terminate. Instead we both indulge their laziness and demean them, locking them away in retirement homes while they slowly rot in a medicated stupor. The thought seems to be, the elderly, like most minority groups, enjoy being grouped together in a designated living area. But what if we stripped them of their pills and deprived them of their Rascal scooters, perhaps the elderly would stand up and face death like a man: head on, in a battle royal. Win or lose, they’d be more alive than they are now, even if the exertion caused them to cease living.”

When my time comes, I want to fight it out on Elderly Island. [via Anamarie]

Death by manure spreader

I came across a story submitted to one of our networks yesterday, about an 81-year-old man was killed when he became in the manure spreader he was operating. This just struck me as a bad way to go.

Which started me thinking about “good” ways and “bad” ways. When was the last time you heard or read a story about someone dying in their sleep? Okay, that probably isn’t much of story.

Or about some old guy dying in flagrante delicto, which I think means “in the saddle.” I assume those stories are hard to report. And the deceased is usually found alone in a hotel room with his shoes on the wrong feet.

While there are few “good” ways to go, some are just a damn site worse than others. So I’ve set up a little blog where we can post these stores and be glad they weren’t about us.

If you spot one of these, please send them my way (Steve Mays at Gmail.com) with “Bad Way” in the subject line. Let me know if I can use your name.

I’ve registered BadWaytoGo.com but it isn’t hot yet.

“Virtual Immortality Made Easy”

Grannyfinal228x300Regular readers know  smays.com is all about getting those photos and home movies out of the closet and up on flickr and YouTube. I’ve even posted a time or two about digital immortality.

Scott Maentz and his wife are actually doing something about it. From their website: “Our mission at RememberGranny.com is to help technology challenged Baby Boomers create a legacy for future generations using today’s rich digital media and the latest Internet applications.”

RG.com has packages starting at just $99 but my favorite is the Complete Virtual Immortality Package ($499). Need some f2f help? Then you’ll want to consider the Virtual Immortality Mini-Vacation.

PS: I just went looking for some of my earlier posts where I talk about putting your life on line; paying flickr to keep your pix up forever and a day… and I can’t find them. Poor tagging. If anyone remembers some of these posts and happened to bookmark or link, drop me a line.

I’m closing in on 4,000 posts and it’s getting damned hard to find stuff.