Call: “Death and the Digital Realm” Workshop/Conference

Call for Abstracts

“Death and the Digital Realm” Workshop/Conference
Co-sponsored by the International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying (IAPDD), Leiden University, and the Australian Research Council project “Digital Death and Immortality”
October 11-12, 2024
Leiden University, Netherlands

Submission deadline: July 22, 2024

A legacy of today’s digitally driven world is the increasing number of ‘digital remains’ a person leaves behind after they die, such as audio and image files, social media accounts and emails. How to deal with these digital remains has become an increasingly significant and costly problem for individuals, families, organisations, tech companies, and governments. Existing legal approaches focus on treating digital remains as a form of property, but they do not fully capture the sensitivities and significance of digital remains in people’s lives. Additionally, a property-only approach cannot address the dangers of ‘digital reanimation’ – emerging artificial intelligence technologies that re-use digital remains to ‘revive’ the dead, making it possible to interact with them. This offers new ways of commemorating the dead and for managing grief. Yet these technologies also threaten to exploit the dead and to change our relationship to them in troubling ways. From posthumous chatbots to CGI performances from dead actors, they create ethical dilemmas for dealing with digital souls. Clearly, more work is necessary on the ethical use of these technologies and the best policies for regulating the reuse of digital remains. This workshop/conference will consider what sort of ethical significance digital remains have, and determine how they should be preserved, reused or disposed of.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The ontological status of the digital dead
  • What we owe the digital dead
  • The digital dead and privacy rights
  • The ethics of putting the dead to work
  • Responsible use of the digital dead for grieving
  • Regulating the digital dead
  • The digital dead and agency

Abstracts addressing this theme should be approximately 400 words long and sent to by 22 Jul 2024. We expect to notify authors of acceptances in mid-August.

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