The Null Device

A thought-provoking article: who will notice when you die?
Three weeks before Christmas 1993, Wolfgang Dircks died while watching television. Neighbors in his Berlin apartment complex hardly noticed the absence of the 43-year-old. His rent continued to be paid automatically out of his bank account. Five years later, the money ran out, and the landlord entered Dircks's apartment to inquire. He found Dircks's remains still in front of the tube. The TV guide on his lap was open to December 3, the presumed day of his death. Although the television set had burnt out, the lights on Dircks's Christmas tree were still twinkling away.

Which brings me to something I was speculating about: the possibility of developing new methods of fulfilling fundamental human needs, which evolved in tightly-knit hunter-gatherer societies, in a way that works more economically in a post-communitarian age. Perhaps like the robots that are being developed in Japan to take care of the aging population. Perhaps someone will develop devices (machines, software, or even drugs) to satisfy psychological need such as affection, belonging and social status by entirely synthetic means, allowing people to remain in their cubicles, fitter, happier and more productive.

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