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Where Should Our Digital Data Go After We Die?


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A digital grave on a keyboard.

People want control over what personal digital data is passed along after they die, along with tools to make it easier to do so, according to a new case study by computer science researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Credit: iStock

A study by computer scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada considered ways for people to control what happens to their personal digital data after they die.

The researchers presented study participants ages 18 to 81 with 12 rough design concepts for data management featuring different levels of user-control, including human-selected, computer-selected, and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered options.

The researchers found study participants generally had not previously thought about to what happens to their digital data after death, but when presented with the study’s concepts, preferred ideas that let them preserve their sense of agency over remained online after their passing.

Observed UBC’s Janet Chen, "One concept people clearly did not like at all was an AI-powered replica of the deceased person, which would interact with future generations. They said it was scary and creepy."

From University of British Columbia (Canada)
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