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."