New Book Explores the Future of Personal Data After Death

Published: May 15, 2024

“The Afterlife of Data: What Happens to Your Information When You Die and Why You Should Care” is a newly published book written by WASP-HS Assistant Professor Carl Öhman at Uppsala University.

Should you care about what happens to the data you leave behind as you die? According to WASP-HS Assistant Professor Carl Öhman, you should. In his new book “The Afterlife of Data: What Happens to Your Information When You Die and Why You Should Care” Carl Öhman delves into the critical issue of digital data legacy.

Bigger Story to Tell

“The Afterlife of Data was originally meant as a popularization of my doctoral thesis. But as I started writing, I realized there was a much bigger story to be told here,” says Öhman.

He highlights that the issue of what will come of our data not only transforms the way we relate to the dead but also raises broader societal questions.

“As readers will soon discover, this question sits at the intersection of some of the most pressing issues of our time. It is about who controls our individual and collective past(s), and what can be done to enable a more democratic stewardship of it.”

Long-Term Governance of the Internet

Drawing parallels to the climate crisis, Öhman underscores the importance of addressing the long-term governance of the internet and AI.

“The most important thing for me is that readers understand the magnitude of the stakes involved. Yes, there are many urgent issues in tech, but if we only focus on the short-term issues, we risk forgetting that the internet also needs long-term governance. Preparing for the inevitable death of users, and even entire platforms is part of that.” he says.

Broad Appeal and Accessibility

Published with accessibility in mind, the book has received praise from both academics and the general public. As Luciano Floridi comments in his blurb, it will “be of personal interest to any moral with a digital presence.” This broad relevance underscores the importance of the issues Öhman addresses.

For more information about Carl Öhman’s current research see the “AI and Political Communication” research project, of which he is principal investigator.

“The Afterlife of Data” is now available for purchase, offering critical insights into the future of our digital legacies. It can be found on Amazon among other booksellers.

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