A new Twitter service will allow users to carry on their stream of consciousness in 140 characters or less from beyond the grave. LivesOn will analyse users' Twitter feeds to learn their 'likes, tastes, [and] syntax' to continue posting similar messages, updates and links after they've passed. The service, due to launch in March, promises: 'When your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting.'
LivesOn is being developed by London-based advertising agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine. Dave Bedwood, a creative partner at the firm, told the Guardian he was ready for negative responses to the service. 'It divides people on a gut level, before you even get to the philosophical and ethical arguments,' he said. 'It offends some, and delights others. Imagine if people started to see it as a legitimate but small way to live on. Cryogenics costs a fortune; this is free and I'd bet it will work better than a frozen head.'
Although it is similar to the plot of last week's episode of Channel 4 sitcom Black Mirror, in which a woman uses social media to talk to her dead boyfriend, the developers claim they came up with the service in 2011. Posts on the LivesOn Twitter feed explain how the 'idea was born a couple of years ago. been getting tech partners together. '[T]hen black mirror themes were in the press and it seemed the perfect time to get something up. But we are genuinely doing the experiment.'
LivesOn uses artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse users' online behaviour and their style of writing. This allows it to scour the internet to post the kinds of links its users like, as well as mimic their manner of communicating and favourite appropriate tweets to create a personal digital afterlife. An early post on the LivesOn Twitter feed pronounces: 'God doesn't exist, servers do. Sign up to the real after life.'
But as bizarre as it might seem, LivesOn is only the latest service to offer to continue your social media life after death. DeadSocial, launched last April, and If I Die, launched in January 2012, offer users the ability to send predetermined messages from beyond the grave to selected Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. DeadSocial can be scheduled to post social media updates for long after users have passed away, while If I Die posts a single video or text message to the Facebook wall of any user after three friends confirm their death. LivesOn is the first service to offer to automatically continue posting in the style of the dead user, however. One person who has registered interest in the service is Mia Smith, a businesswoman in her mid-40s, who said she wanted the chance to have a 'kind of ironic legacy'. Speaking to the Guardian, she admitted, however, that 'in the cold light of day, it is a very conceited thing to do.'
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