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Death doesn’t mean what it once did. Instead of marking finality and the end of one’s being, death is evolving to mean only that the physical body is around no more.

There are already people and companies dedicated to creating personality-accurate representations of our loved ones after death. Sending a text to the dead and expecting and receiving a response is a new reality. As AI capabilities, machine learning, and the amount of data we pour into technology, from our online personas to our digital accounts and communication logs, grow, so will the accuracy, intuition, engagement and intimacy made possible by these post-death human representations. In the next decade, we will see a continuation of people moving far and often. Meaningful relationships will be scattered across the globe and few people will live close to their relative’s final resting spots. With the complications and expense that comes with needing to travel for funerals and memorial events, and the lack of access to traditional collective memorial sites (i.e. cemeteries), there will be a demand for new ways to commemorate, remember and interact with the beloved dead.

Living On, a remembering booth, addresses these needs. We envision Living On as a start-up originating in New York City. Built off the docks that jut into the harbor, these booths take mourners from the busy, unfeeling and continually moving streets of New York City into an intentionally isolated environment where people can have a chance to pause and remember and speak with the loved ones they’ve lose. Creating an environment within the booth helps reset user mindsets, slow them down, and prepare them for meaningful experiences with those they have lost. Once a living-passed engagement experience is complete, users emerge into the city facing the water and New York City skyline, a gentle reintroduction that continues the flow from the opening and closing meditation periods.

Ultimately, my team is trying to do two things:

  1. Create a thoughtful, meaningful mourning experience for the new realities of an increasingly transient society and increasingly tighter demands for land.
  2. Force engagement with the question of digital life after death. What are the implications for maintaining our loved and lost in a semblance of a semi-sentient form? Who gets to decide what happens to somebody’s data and digital legacy and memory? Built off data, how will these reincarnations shift from the reality of the living person, and how will continued interactions with people shift the avatar even further?

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