Monday, January 22, 2007

Birthday Greetings From the Grave

Researchers at Microsoft are working on an "immortal computing" project, which would "let people store digital information in physical artifacts and other forms to be preserved and revealed to future generations, and maybe even to future civilizations."

One scenario the researchers envision: People could store messages to descendants, information about their lives or interactive holograms of themselves for access by visitors at their tombstones or urns.

And here's where the notion of immortality really kicks in: The researchers say the artifacts could be symbolic representations of people, reflecting elements of their personalities. The systems might be set up to take action -- e-mailing birthday greetings to people identified as grandchildren, for example. [Link]
How long will it work before Grandma gets the Blue Screen of Death?


This is an interesting concept. I had the opportunity recently to participate in putting together a time capsule to be opened 100 years from now. I want to put a CD in the time capsule, and was shot down as they said 100 years from now they might have a difficult time reading a CD. Guess what technology they were using to insure that 100 years from now people could read the info--microfilm (with a small reader included), photographs and print on acid-free paper. No high tech here.



The ultimate example of attempting to communicate with descendants is probably the effort to place warning signs at the nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain. The place will be dangerous for 10,000 years, but how do you express "Stay Away!" without using language? Here's a good article on the subject.

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