Modern Memorials: Using Technology to Remember Our Loved Ones

Modern technology has changed the way we preserve the things of the past. Gone are the days when the only mementos of Grandma was a black-and-white photo and an old recipe card. Today, with smart devices and personal computers in common usage, anyone can take pictures, shoot videos and create tons of digital memories. Some innovative minds are going even further, aiming to preserve whole personalities beyond death through the power of artificial intelligence.

You may have lost someone dear to you, and if you haven’t, you know that one day you will. Inevitably, you too will pass away. So what are your options? How do you remember your loved ones and also give others ways to keep your memory alive?

Personalized products

Let’s start with the simple stuff. Technology allows you create all kinds of things with somebody’s face in it. Anything from mugs to mouse pads, to calendars and coasters. If you cannot make it yourself, you can pay to have someone else do it for you. Shutterfly.com is a website that lets customers design their own personalized products online, and then order the physical items. First, you choose a product like a photo album or a piece of jewelry. Next, you upload your photos to the Shutterfly site and customize the look and feel of the item. Then you pay and have it shipped to you or the recipient’s address. Techlicious recommends Shutterfly, but there are other companies that work similarly, though the offerings may differ. It is a simple and inexpensive way to give your memories a tangible form.

Do you prefer audio over visuals? Try audio recording programs. For example, you might want to look for a call recorder for your smartphone. Get it on Google Play.

Memorials on the Internet

The Web has become a medium of expression for a great many people. Whether it is through blogging, email, forums or social media, you too have probably shared a part of yourself online. And who says it has to end when a person dies? A blogger may live on through a blog he or she has left behind, for as long as it is kept active. A Facebook profile may be “memorialized” upon the owner’s death if he or she specified it before passing. Looking at a loved one’s online presence, you may be able to find a way to immortalize them digitally. But please note that such actions may involve legal issues. Social media and web hosting companies each have their own policies on such matters. They will probably not just hand over control of a deceased person’s account to a grieving relative. Twitter, for example, says it will cooperate with an authorized person to deactivate a dead or incapacitated user’s account; but it cannot grant access to the account itself.

Eternal avatars?

Photos, videos, and social media content are plenty to remember a loved one by. But an NBCNews.com report looks at more spectacular possibilities through the development of a special kind of artificial intelligence. “The theory that humans will eventually be able to upload our brains to computers has fascinated futurists and neuroscientists for years,” the report goes. “By transferring our minds into machines we could live forever, unmoored from the feebleness of our physical bodies.” That will probably not happen anytime soon, but some folks have already come up with interesting stuff. The website Eterni.me aims to gather an individual’s thoughts and memories into an avatar that may one day communicate with others after that person has died. Also, a Russian engineer named Eugenia Kuyda developed a chatbot based on her deceased friend’s text messages. People could talk to the bot and it would respond in his voice.

As technology advances, we are afforded more and more ways to honor departed loved ones. What will you do today to ensure you and those you care about will be remembered?

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