Cyber Workshop - Karen Eltis - ‘Do You Really Want to Live Forever?’ Digital Immortality and Posthumous Personality Rights


Wed, 16/03/2022 - 15:00 to 16:30


‘Do You Really Want to Live Forever?’ Digital Immortality and Posthumous Personality Rights:

The metaverse, increasingly defined as an ‘immersive virtual reality environment’[1] may be converging with an emerging ‘Death Tech’ industry, promising a digital afterlife and comfort to the bereaved. The form that such immortality might ultimately take ranges from a chatbox such as Microsoft’s, modelled on a ‘past or present entity ... such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance"[2] to the creation of an avatar  - and beyond.

Thus, for instance, in the dystopian Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back’, a young woman reluctantly acquiesces to AI powered technologies that allow her to interact on various levels with her spouse following his sudden death, with unsettling consequences. Reminiscent of this prescient fictional scenario, a bereaved korean mother recently ‘communicated’ with her lost daughter, albeit in VR, attracting 20 million views on YouTube.

What then might the law have to say about digital immortality, resuscitating or perhaps more aptly ‘recreating’ a disembodied version of the deceased loved with morsels of data? 


If seemingly straight forward matters such as inheriting social media accounts have drawn such jurisprudential uncertainty, how might the law approach thornier questions such as posthumous consent  and privacy, intersection of interests reputational rights and erasure ? This talk merely broaches these questions of imminent relevance from a comparative perspective, focusing on personality rights and dignity.

[1] See e.g. Stephenson

[2] according to the filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office.



To join, via Zoom, see here