Tweet On, Dead Or Alive

Tweet On, Dead Or Alive

So recently, I saw the movie Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise who plays a wealthy playboy who has everything, but has a horrible disfiguring accident as a result of a disgruntled girlfriend, and Cruise ends up in despair, overdosing, and ultimately in cryonic suspension–but with the added package of being in a lucid dream while in frozen suspension for 150 years.

The idea of somehow being placed in suspended animation after death in the hope of eventually being brought back to life with technologies in the future has been an interest of many who naturally seek immortality.

A company called Alcor Life Extension, not only researches cryonics, but also actually performs it and has over 100 patients preserved and frozen in liquid nitrogen (as well as over 30 pets).
Understanding the great desire for people to somehow defeat death, I was not completely surprised to read about LivesOn in the New York Times (2, March 2013), which is an algorithm being developed to continue Tweeting even after you are dead!

You can sign up at the website to join their beta trials–no, you don’t have to be dead yet!

But LivesOn will start learning what and how you normally Tweet and through artificial intelligence will start to tweet on its own for you and you can give it feedback to refine its performance.

It’s slogan of “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting,” seems more than a little crude.

Given all the distress about accessing a person’s social media account after they die to learn more about them, their friends, perhaps the circumstances of their death, or even to post a closing to account–the legal and policy issues are still being worked out in terms of privacy and the user agreements for the sites.

With artificial intelligence now being able to, in a sense, take over for you and continue your posts even when you are dead, this practically begs the question of who you are and what makes you distinct from a computer that can mimic you to the world?

Can a computer or robot one day be able to assume your identity? How difficult would it really be? Would anyone even know the difference? And would they care? Are we all just patterns of thoughts and behaviors that can be predicted and mimicked, and if so what are we really? 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Anders Sandberg)

>Total Recall and Enterprise Architecture

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Enterprise architecture plays an important role in corporate knowledge management. EA captures, analyzes, catalogues, and serves up information to end-users. In many cases, where more general KM endeavors fail, User-centric EA succeeds because it is a focused effort, with a clear value proposition for making information useful and usable.

Now, KM is being taken to whole new level. And rather than capturing information with clearly defined users and uses, the aim is total recall.

ComputerWorld, 6 April 2008, reports on an initiative for “storing every life memory in a surrogate [computer] brain.”

“Gordon Bello, a longtime veteran of the IT industry and now principle researcher at Microsoft’s Corp.’s research arm, is developing a way for everyone to remember those special moments. Actually, Bell himself wants to remember—well, everything…he wants the ability to pull up any picture, phone call, e-mail, or conversation any time he wants”

“The nine-year project, called MyLifeBits, has Bell supplementing his own memory by collecting as much information as he can about his life. He’s trying to store a lifetime on his laptop.”

“The effort is about not forgetting, not deleting, and holding onto all the bit of your life. In essence, it’s about immortality.”

What about privacy of your personal information?

It “isn’t about plastering a Myspace or Facebook page with information…[It’s] immensely personal…you will leave a personal legacy—a record of your life [on a personal computer].

And Bell is not discerning, he stores painful memories as he does happy ones; this “would actually let people see who he was as a person.”

Certainly people have strived for eternal life from the time of the first man and woman—Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden apple in their quest for immortality—and since with the search for the “fountain of youth” and other elixirs to prolong life. Similarly, people have sought to live eternal by leaving a legacy—whether great men or nefarious one—from rulers and inventors to conquerors and hate mongers. The desire to influence and be remembered everlasting is as potent as the most parch thirst of man.

Bell has gone to extremes collecting and storing his memories—good and bad—from “every webpage he has ever visited and television shows he has watched…video’s of lectures he’d given, CDs, correspondence and an avalanche of photos…he has also recorded phone conversations, images and audio from conference sessions, and with his e-mail and instant messages.”

In fact, Bell wears a SenseCam around his neck, a digital camera that automatically takes a photo every 30 seconds or whenever someone approaches.

“Bell figures that he could store everything about his life, from start to finish, using a terabyte of storage.”

“In 20 years, digitizing our memories will be standard procedure according to Bell. ‘Its my supplemental memory and brain’. It’s one of my most valuable possessions. It look at this thing and think, ‘My whole life is there.’”

So is that what a human life comes down to—a terabyte of stored information?

While maybe a noble effort at capturing memory, this seems to miss the mark at what a human being is really about. A person is much more than that which can be captured by a photo or sound bite of the external circumstances and events that take place around us. The essence of a person is about the deep challenges that go on inside us. The daily struggles and choices we make through our inner conscience—to chose right from wrong and to sacrifice for our creator, our loved ones, our nation, and our beliefs. Yes, you can see the resulting actions, but you don’t see the internal struggles of heart, mind, and soul.

Also, while capturing every 30 seconds of a person’s life may be sacred to the person whose life is being stored, who else really cares? The high-lights of a person’s life are a lesson for others, the minutia of their day are personal for their growth and reckoning.

From a User-centric EA perspective, I believe we should focus KM initiatives for both organizations and individuals from being a wholesale data dump to being truly meaningful endeavors that have a clarity or purpose and a dignity of the human beings being recorded.

>Immortality and Enterprise Architecture

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In the book The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, the author states: “Among all the animals, we alone are conscious of the fact that we will die, and we are obliged to spend our lives with knowledge of the paradox that while we may be capable of G-d-like spiritual transcendence beyond our bodies, our existence is dependent on a finite structure of flesh and bone that will ultimately wither away and disappear.” Becker believes that we deny the reality of death by pushing the fear of it into our deep unconscious.

Gareth Morgan, in the book Images of Organization, explains how the denial of death manifests itself not only in the individual, but also in the organization’s “quest for immortality.” “In creating organizations, we create structures of activity that are larger than life and that often survive for generations. And in becoming identified with such organizations, we ourselves find meaning and permanence.”

People and organizations want to “preserve the myth of immortality” by “creating a world that can be perceived as objective and real.” “This illusion of realness helps to disguise our unconscious fear that everything is highly vulnerable and transitory.”

How does EA deal with the “myth of immortality” of the organization?

Enterprise architecture is a forward looking discipline. EA takes the current state of the organization and develops a target and transition plan. However, when EA looks forward, does it acknowledge the ultimate mortality of the organization or does it seek to perpetuate the organization indefinitely?

Of course, as employees of the organization, our job is to do the best for the organization we work for: to plan and work for its survival, and more so, its growth, maturation, and ultimate competitiveness.

However, if as architects, we see that the organization will not be competitive and survive in its current form, then we need to acknowledge that reality. As architects, we are in a somewhat unique position to help remake and transform the organization so that it can live on and prosper. We can do this by envisioning a new state and planning for changes in what the organization does and/or how they do it. We can do this through process reengineering, new technologies, or a more drastic “organization makeover” in terms of a new/revised mission, strategy, leadership, and so on. Unlike a human being, whose life is fleeting, an organization can either die or be reborn again to live and compete another day.