Neuroscientist David Eagleman launched a start-up, Deathswitch, that allows clients to communicate posthumously:
Subscribers are prompted periodically via email to make sure they’re still alive. When they fail to respond, Deathswitch starts firing off their predrafted notes to loved ones. The company now has thousands of users and effectively runs itself. Among the perks of a premium Deathswitch account is the ability to schedule emails for delivery far in the future: to wish your wife a happy 50th wedding anniversary, for example, 30 years after you left her a widow.
Death is the original other dimension—a parallel universe that, for millennia, we have anxiously tried to understand. As software, Deathswitch is relatively simple, but as a tool in that millennia-long project it can feel spine-chillingly disruptive. Eagleman has jury-rigged a way for people to speak from beyond that inviolable border and—for those of us still sticking it out on this side—to feel we’re being spoken to. It’s another example of technology enabling things that previously would have seemed magic.