On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Whatever, a creative studio headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, released “Digital Employment After Death” (D.E.A.D.), a platform that allows you to declare if you wish (or not) to be “resurrected” digitally after death.
You are not alone, if you have ever thought about bringing someone you lost back to life. It has been a recurring theme of various folklore, novels, and films. With the latest advancements in technologies, we are getting closer to the future where these wishes may come true… or at least virtually in the digital world.
Last year, we took part in creating a TV show “Day of Reunion” by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK (aired on March 28, 2019). The show featured Mr. Tetsuro Degawa, a famous comedian in Japan, who reunited with his digitally “resurrected” mother he had lost 8 years before.
There have been similar attempts before/after the show aired, and we see more and more deceased being “resurrected” around the world. Examples include Ms. Hibari Misora, a late national diva in Japan, who recently released a “new song” generated by AI technology. There was also a documentary featuring the reunification of a mother with the daughter she had lost using VR technology, aired by a Korean broadcaster MBC in 2020. Salvador Dali is now greeting guests at a museum in Miami. Obviously, there are mixed reactions from the public on these cases for various reasons. We decided to call this phenomenon “Digital Employment After Death,” or D.E.A.D for short, and started by investigating its current landscape.
Seeing these types of content, which includes “digital resurrection” and “digital twin,” one might think it only concerns celebrities. However, as we regularly share data from our smartphones and computers, this can soon become an issue for the rest of us. There are no legal system yet to protect us, and we would also need to be prepared by educating ourselves on its ethical side of things.
Our lives will eventually come to an end, but technologies may not allow us to let us go easily. Therefore, it is important that each of us has a choice to “design death”, by being able to choose if one wants to be “resurrected” or not. The online survey we conducted revealed that around 63% of people are opposed to “resurrection.” But having been involved with the “resurrection” ourselves, we see that this technology can also have a bright side, and would love to see a positive progress in this field. In doing so, we thought we would first need a tool for everyone to express their choices while alive.
That is why we created this platform “D.E.A.D.” Would you like to be “resurrected” or not? Please let the world know of your choices.