You know what would suck? If when you die there actually is an afterlife, and if said afterlife was actually a digital realm micromanaged to death by lawyers, full of intrusive corporate pop up ads, and subject to licensing fees for many of your treasured memories. That’s the essential premise behind Tom Scott’s new video Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers.
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While watching I couldn’t help but be reminded of Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide, in tone at least, but it also feels somewhat prophetic. In a world where corporate sponsorship is rampant, where billion dollar companies buy naming rights for sports arenas, and product placement infests every form of popular entertainment, it isn’t difficult to imagine that if there was an afterlife, someone would slap an advertisement on it.
Welcome to Life captures the attitude and feel of licensing agreements, like you’re signing up for an iTunes update rather than designating how you’ll spend eternity. It really is quite clever. I especially like the tiers, the various options, and the social strata that exist in the afterlife, that is an interesting idea.
Scott drew encouragement and motivation for his video from a pair of novels. Everyone in Silico by Jim Munroe provided the inspiration for the corporate sponsored afterlife, and Postsingular by Rudy Rucker gave him the idea of consciousness slums.
The video is a cool premise and executed very well. It goes on just long enough. Any less it wouldn’t have felt complete, but any longer it would have overstayed its welcome. I can’t get around the feel that this could very well have been a bit of viral marketing for some dystopian science fiction film.
Check out Scott’s website for more of his videos.