After a particularly gripping (and somewhat creepy) episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror last night, we came across this site liveson.org - with the catchy tagline “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.” A tweet later, we found out that many of you were also unnerved, but also confused, as to what this site was. Spoof or real? We contacted the creators at Lean Mean Fighting Machine to find out…
MB : We tweeted a link to your site earlier today and it’s received A LOT of attention, and after a quick WHOIS found out it was you guys.
So is it, or is it not, a spoof?
It is real. The idea of it came about in March 2011 (I have it on my Evernote account, the modern version of sending an idea to yourself by first class delivery). Since then we’ve talked about it, it repulsed some people, made others laugh, but everyone found it interesting on some level.
But like most of these ‘silly’ ideas we just parked it. At one time it was just going to be about creating another you, so that it could trawl the internet and find stuff you’d like to see, freeing the real you up to get on with work. The after life part was then just going to be an easter egg.
MB : Could you tell us a bit about Liveson?
We have a partner – which I can’t disclose – as they’re getting involved in good faith and we didn’t think this would cause as much hoopla as it has done. But they will be helping us develop the A.I. Not being the technical director, I can’t give too much detail on this yet – but the next update to the site will give more depth into how we are doing it.
MB : Were you aware of the episode of Black Mirror that aired last night on a similar theme? Was it your intention to coincide with this or was it coincidence?
Black mirror was the catalyst for us to just get on and do it. One of our planners heard an interview with Charlie Brooker a couple of months ago, and he mentioned this theme to one of his episodes. The planner told me, and we just thought, this would be the perfect time to launch the idea.
We knew we’d had the idea for ages so didn’t have hang ups about looking like we’d ripped it off (I think the after life is a pretty old idea anyway) we knew people would probably think its a PR stunt for the show. But our intention is to genuinely see what we can do with this technology. In that sense we saw Black Mirror as a big ad for LIVESON.
MB : What do you think projects like this could really mean for the future of how we live and die in peoples’ minds?
I really don’t know, that’s why it’s interesting. Obviously it automatically leads us to a dystopian vision, Charlie Brooker’s drama was intense and I suppose you could say not a good ad for LIVESON… but that’s dramas job. Our job will be to see how good we can make a version of you out of relatively little information.
We think the biggest thing about this could still be the help it can give you in a time starved world. If there’s two of you, then you can divide and conquer the information overload.
In terms of the moral, ethical, philosophical points, I’m not smart enough to understand all the implications. There seems to be a guttural instinct to the idea. My wife just hates it. Whereas I find it funny and interesting. Being an atheist, I think its at least a better or more real deal than the church offer…
The last point here is what really interested us. We live in a world where the kind of people that want to tweet and share, are also often the people who may be too time poor to stay on top of things. Is there truly any benefit in a bot which could keep abreast of all the things that apply to you, when you may not have the time to discover them yourself? It is the context, here, which turns it from something that strives to be efficient, into something which becomes creepy and highly unnatural. Networks which we already trust have started to fringe onto our rights regarding this topic; 0nly recently we saw complaints over Facebook using diseased friends and relatives’ accounts being used to sell and share promotional items over the social network. The Black Mirror audience have been quick to create their own morals from last night’s tale, but ultimately we must be careful to ensure that what saves us time, doesn’t cost us our humanity.
Thanks to Dave Bedwood, Creative Partner at Lean Mean Fighting Machine, for sharing their thinking behind LIVESON.