Most humans want to "live forever." Given that we can't do that, we resort to procreation, and leaving behind some pieces of ourselves to be remembered by, with lots of cultures having some type of funeral practice to ensure this occurs (i.e. tombstones).
With the proliferation of our digital lives, many of us have more photos, videos, and other media than we know what to do with. Furthermore, we probably don't have a great way to preserve this information.
Imagine a funeral service that could comb through your digital life, archive it all, and keep it accessible to your family for generations. Bonus points for summarizing it into a beautiful montage to be played to your family at your service.
Financially, it would work a lot like how funeral homes operate with deposits, insurance, and annuities, but the marginal cost should be much lower due to it being a digital vs. physical product.
One of the problems I've been mulling over is the fact that digital storage isn't perpetual, which means that someone has to ensure the data is maintained in some way.
Therefore, something like the quartz glass storage medium in the article would be perfect. Your data would be accessible via traditional means for 10-20 years after your death. Afterwards, it would still be accessible, but it would be on cold storage, so it wouldn't be instantaneous. It would mean you'd "never really die" since any of your descendants would be able to see what your life was like.
I think that would be enough of a "hard problem to solve" to build a startup around. Of course, you could extend it to preserve other forms of data, like your DNA, or your mind like Westworld, where your descendants could communicate with you whenever you wanted.
It could easily become one of the first perpetual corporations.
No, and no thanks. Every company already does that. :)
A better idea would be something like a GitHub or Dropbox option that makes your content public after your death.
Unfinished projects for others to take up, ideas you never got to work on, thoughts you couldn't speak out when alive, secrets you didn't dare spill, stuff like that.
Still though, instead of having a firm scour ALL your data, including things that you may not wish for others to discover, wouldn't it be better to let you choose what you want to be released after your death?
For example, besides marking select files/repositories, and setting my own criteria for releasing them (e.g. 1 year after I haven't logged on), I would have the option to notify specific individuals when my data is released, or even have it automatically posted on places like HN/Reddit/etc.
Other people would then have the choice of what to do with my data.
They could archive it, enshrine it, build upon it, whatever.
It would be much better to gracefully accept death as a natural part of the cycle of life, than offer fake simulacra of eternal life IMO.
But that's just me. Let the markets decide!
One is that discerning customers will be reluctant to deal with a startup. Most startups go out of business, and it will be challenging to convince people that you'll really be around even as long as the service purchaser, let alone their great-grandchildren.
The other is that non-discerning customers won't be able to tell a truly well-designed and well-endowed long-term archive company from one that just talks about it. So you'll have competitors that will charge 10% of what you do, and once who will charge the same but put 5x the money toward advertising.
I suspect this is a market only truly available to companies with long-lived brands. It's sort of like how cloud computing took off once Amazon put their brand behind it; if what you're selling requires deep trust, startups face big hurdles.
Interesting idea. I am not sure I want that level of detail preserved. I also am pretty sure those to come would want it.
Lots to think about with this.
Not only would a backup of the DNA be stored inside a physical product, but the most variable regions of the genome would be sequenced and used as input for a set of lights embedded in the device, so that in the end every product is visibly different from ever other one in a way that's related to their actual genetic makeup.
It's not can't it's don't currently.
That's the "hard problem to build a startup around."
The blanks cost about twice as much and you need a drive with the M-Disc feature, which is not expensive.
How about dropping it on the floor?
I linked another company doing the same thing and they claimed it could withstand 0.5 tons of force before breaking. I’m not sure how that applies to dropping it, necessarily if there are other parameters that would cause a weakness that way.
How are they using "artificial intelligence" for this?
Unclear why ML is required versus old-school methods.
We've finally accepted the computer doesn't have any information in it yet, and that we have to (somehow) feed some in.
If the bootstrap section is good enough, the naive, untrained, know-nothing AI should be able to decode the movie. If it isn't good enough, the AI cranks for a long time and then puts Superman in a purple, orange, and green costume, and won't even know that those are all villain colors.
The worst environmental threat is when your media is a proprietary format with secret specifications or even worse, DRM... even if the media could last 1000000 years, that's a moot point if the specifications have disappeared before then, or the encryption keys lost. Given the tie-ins with the entertainment industry mentioned in this article, the possibility of DRM causing the death of a format is too big to ignore.
And I guess at least the reading can be somewhat parallelized to speed up?
I like write-once optical storage media because it protects me from accidentally modifying or deleting files. Also I don't have to worry about HDD reliability issues like head crashes, circuit board failures, etc., and it's easier to keep optical discs in cold storage with zero maintenance effort.
While hard drives have been getting bigger and cheaper every year, is anyone else disappointed that write-once media technology has stagnated?
A rough timeline of when writable optical discs became popular and affordable: CD-R 700MiB (~2000); DVD+/-R (+DL) 4.7GB/8.5GB (~2005); BD-R 25GB (~2010); BD-R XL 100GB (~2015). Various holographic discs have been proposed but are vaporware. The problem today is that all these disc formats are tiny compared to the 10TB HDDs you can pick up easily.
That said, there are other positives of going with write-once optical media. Magnetic or NAND media loses its charge over time, requiring refreshes to ensure data isn't lost. Its also more susceptible to outside EMI. Archive quality optical media is usually rated to safely store its contents for hundreds of years. I know I have cheap burned CDs from the 90s which still read with 100% accuracy, while most hard drives I have from that era have many errors and lots of corruption. Keep the media free from scratches, stored in the right temperature and humidity, and it'll probably outlive you without having to touch it.
Lots of copies on different platforms / storage formats sadly.
I'd love to get a holographic disk or heck an isolinear chip-shaped slab to write to because I like Star Trek.
I am more than willing to leave my computer on overnight to write to a 1 TB optical disc with no human intervention. And this action is only for cold storage; HDDs are bigger anyway and I would have the data in hot storage if I needed to browse or edit it.
This glass? Write it and don't physically smash it and it should be good to go for the rest of your life +, if the claims in this article hold up. Then digital data will have a cold-storage equivalent to a piece of paper. Stick it in a box in the attic, get it out in 80 years and as long as its not smashed or burned it should be GTG.
Are you anticipating living a lot longer than 100 more years?
And even then, isn't the M-Disk a better tech by your math?
I don't expect to crack 90 years myself, but my great-great-grandchildren might want or need whatever data there is on that glassdrive, even if it is only pictures and not something important like legal documents.
The 'rest of your life+' claim is simply my shorthand for saying that while the glass will likely last for thousands of years, how long the readers exist that can read that particular glassdrive and interpret its data (ANSI or Unicode text, PNG or PDF display capability) may or may not last as long as the glassdrive itself can (see Voyneuch manuscript which exists, but we no longer can read and interpret it).
After many years of experience with CD-R and DVD-R, one can say that those disks are good for at least 3 years. But we can only say that because lots of people have successfully read CD-Rs that were 3 years old.
Also, they can sell those "100-year" disks with these claims, and when customers lose data after 5-6 years, the company just says "oh that's too bad, maybe you stored them where the temperature fluctuated by more than +/- 0.1 degrees Celsius ?" and you have no recourse other than not giving them more of your money in the future.
*PS not sure if I have done the reference thing twice.
I'd love to see a project preserve data for tens of thousands of years. The Egyptians did this by creating tombs. Surely we could do better.
That's really cool.