The political economy of death in the age of information: a critical approach to the digital afterlife industry

Minds and Machines 27 (4):639-662 (2017)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Online technologies enable vast amounts of data to outlive their producers online, thereby giving rise to a new, digital form of afterlife presence. Although researchers have begun investigating the nature of such presence, academic literature has until now failed to acknowledge the role of commercial interests in shaping it. The goal of this paper is to analyse what those interests are and what ethical consequences they may have. This goal is pursued in three steps. First, we introduce the concept of the Digital Afterlife Industry, and define it as an object of study. Second, we identify the politico-economic interests of the DAI. For this purpose, we develop an analytical approach based on an informational interpretation of Marxian economics. Third, we explain the practical manifestations of the interests using four real life cases. The findings expose the incentives of the DAI to alter what is referred to as the “informational bodies” of the dead, which in turn is to be seen as a violation of the principle of human dignity. To prevent such consequences, we argue that the ethical conventions that guide trade with remains of organic bodies may serve as a good model for future regulation of DAI.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2021-06-16
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
49 ( #65,384 of 72,589 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #69,352 of 72,589 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.