Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ghost In My Machine

I had a surprise today when I opened up my email. There was a message from Mac Tonnies.

Mac unexpectedly died in October 2009.

I check the message and noticed it was about a Tweet he made before he died.

Thanks to Facebook, everyone is trying to get into social networking, including Yahoo email. Call it The Flavor-Of-The-Month Syndrome. Next month everyone will be jumping on to a different fad.

Yahoo is pushing something called Updates, its variation on social networking. Here's the description:

"Updates like little news bulletins about you and your friends that appear in Yahoo! Mail and elsewhere in Yahoo!. Through updates you can find out things like when a friend has posted photos to Flickr, rated a restaurant, 'buzzed up' a news item, and more. Updates help people stay in touch by effortlessly letting each other know what they’ve been up to on Yahoo! and the web."

Updates can include profile pages and you can exchange messages, just like Facebook. So how did I get an update from Mac? Here's the answer from Yahoo:

"To help you get started, we automatically show you updates from select Yahoo! Contacts and Yahoo! Messenger friends. Of course, you have full control over what updates you want to see. The list of people you see updates from is for you only (private), so your relationships aren’t exposed to anyone else."

So a bot is making updates for people I know. Even dead people.

Mac's work lives on through his books, blog and Website. That's good. His writings are important. But oddly enough he has become a ghost thanks to mindless automatic programming. He was into transhumanism, a field where an individual mind could possibly live on beyond the physical body due to advanced technology.

Maybe this incident with Yahoo can be called autohumanism.


Doug said...

Perhaps when you die you don't go to heaven or hell but the internet.

I'm not sure whether that's closer to the former or the latter.

X. Dell said...

I understand your scepticism, and agree with it in large part. But, to me, it seems that this update is a real-life example transhumanism on a micro-scale. Maybe the word is 'trans-autohumanism'?