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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: business » Ancestors’ Second Life influences our First Lives

version: 13 / updated: 2011-02-26
id: #1693 / version id: #1421
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Ian Miles
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

Business groups/individuals (incl. reports, plans and statements)

The source of the Weak Signal is

http://www.luxeternal.com and http://www.yankodesign.com/2010/11/10/tweet-and-like-me-even-when-i%E2%80%99m-dead/

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Ancestors’ Second Life influences our First Lives

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
People are encouraged to record advice, conversations, and memories – and thought processes and structures of feeling - to be used in the event of brain damage or death. In the latter case, these can be used as resources for descendants to stay in contact with (simulations of) the deceased. Expert systems enable real-time simulation of responses to evolving situations, so the virtual ancestor can stay up to date. Ancestors start to populate social media, after first just being available in "living tombstones", and many people take their views as of primary significant in making real-world decisions. Though denounced as a new cult of ancestor worship, the popularity of such systems accelerates following celebrity endorsements and some instances of life transformation through the intervention of the deceased. Eventually the virtual ancestors become able to initiate activity, not just respond to requests for advice. Problems arise as they begin to network among themselves, to forge alliances and new family unions.


virtual identities, ancestors, religion, avatar, second life, ICT


(max. 250 characters)
Virtual Agents on Internet or in IT devices are programmed with characteristics of family members, so they can be consulted, kept up to date, celebrated by those still living. Proves very successful innovation & many facilities are rapidly developed.

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Reliance on virtual agents as social contacts, sources of advice, etc. new/emerging
#2 Denounced by many mainstream religions as ancestor worship – how it fits in with those religions that accept this practice is intriguing. new/emerging
#3 Concern about interaction with new media displacing traditional interpersonal communication. re-emerging
#4 Criticism of cyberculture by religious authorities. continuation
#5 Celebrity culture – why not have virtual versions of celebrities (including dead celebrities) as companions, rather than ancestors? continuation
#6 Reduction of long trend to devalue wisdom of older family members. discontinuation
very beneficial
#7 Changed attitudes to identity and death – change in styles of mourning. discontinuation
mainly beneficial

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Steady growth tools and devices supporting Ancestors’ Second Life.


please specify
please select
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

cultural/religious filters (values, traditions, faith, spiritual beliefs)
affective filters (emotions, anxiety, self-doubt)
social filters (class, status, education level)

Comments on selection:

Some religious groups will raise serious concerns about these technologies.

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Technological/Scientific Second Life technologies.
Economic New products and services supporting "after-life" investments.
Values/Ethical/Cultural Growing celebrity culture.

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
between 2015-2025 Over reliance on virtual technologies as social contacts, sources of advice, etc. Some sectors of society change attitudes to death.

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Support research on ethical use of "after-life" systems. Introduce regulation on "after-life" and Second Life systems management.

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Ageing and other demographic tensions
Behavioural change
Ethics and abuse of S&T
Social cohesion and diversity
Innovation dynamics
Techno-security, hazard & risk

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Social Sciences and Humanities

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Addressing cohesion through a localised articulation between supply and demand
(e.g. making research institutions more engaged with their own context and local users; reinforcing knowledge flows into and out of regions; etc.
Research institutions in cities/countries where such technologies are introduced should investigate consumers' attitudes toward emerging post-life products and services (e.g. e-tombstones).

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
Modelling of human personality and identity. Limitation of capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (“Turing police” scenario).