What Would it Mean if Silicon Valley 'Solved' Death?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

There are some more infamous methods that have been linked with "solving" death in Silicon Valley. To name a few: Ray Kurzweil's contention that we will download our brains to a computer interface, cryogenically freezing bodies before or immediately after death, and slowing down the aging process. These projects have been around for a while, both as fodder for science fiction and now as far-fetched horizons for tech companies. The basic belief - death needs to be cured - is a provocative proposition, and oppositional to beliefs of the death care profession. We celebrate and memorialize, positioning death as an emotionally difficult but important milestone in life, not necessarily a problem to be solved.

It is nonetheless interesting to see where the author arrives by the end of the piece, not entirely sold that all the questions asked and the answers given are the right ones. In trying to reconcile the benefits of life extension with the more existential questions that the absence of death creates, it begs the question of what, then, does it mean to live? I liked this article because reading put what funeral professionals do in a different light. And all of it continues to underscore, in my opinion, the importance of memorialization. Neither prospect - a world where you have the tools to live for a very long time or a world where death is dealt with as quickly and cheaply as possible - seem to satisfactorily engage with what it means to live.

In other news, according to a recent study published in Health Affairs, only about 30% of Americans have completed paperwork that would guide their end-of-life care and wishes. Those numbers are mostly consistent across the board whether looking at perfectly healthy individuals or some with chronic illnesses. The startup LifeFolder created a chatbot - basically an artificial intelligence computer program that customers can talk with online - that will, through conversation, help you craft a living will, sort out your power of attorney, or register your status as an organ donor. 

They admittedly are targeting a younger market who may not feel the urgency to have this part of their lives sorted out, but understand the importance and are familiar with the technology. LifeFolder is currently only approved in a handful of states, but if you reside in one, you can essentially get these documents legally written up for you from a basic text conversation that might take 30 minutes.

I hope that you all had a relaxing Thanksgiving with family and friends. If you are a customer of ours, keep an eye out next month for our end-of-year mailing with 2018 pricing information. Thanks for reading.