Digital storage for the elderly

04 Jun

It’s a theme that turns up now and then in science fiction: uploading the elderly to preserve their memories and save resources in meatspace. The short film Life Begins at Rewirement by Trevin Matcek takes another look:

There are a lot of directions we could take in critiquing the film; we could spend hours on the concepts of self and consciousness alone. I won’t step outside the reality of the film, but will comment on one small thing. If I were told that I’d have to relive my memories over and over again, even if they were exquisitely happy ones, I’d rather they just pull the plug. To make a storage option like this compelling to the people entering it, it should be more Matrix-like, with the opportunity to keep learning and developing.  A virtual world. On the other hand, I’ve often said that funerals and graves are for the living, not the dead. If the point is to make a time capsule the grandkids can visit, while getting rid of the inconvenience of the elderly relative’s physical presence, that’s a completely different angle and memories would suffice.


Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Embodied Experience, Video


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2 responses to “Digital storage for the elderly

  1. Trevin Matcek

    June 10, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Hi. I’m the writer/director of the film. I agree that living an infinite, loopable series of memories is a depressing notion. But if you listen carefully to the clerk during the sales pitch scene, you’ll find that this is not the case with the characters & tech in the film. Simon Ender questions the clerk, stating “There’s nothing in your brochure that speaks about her being stuck in an isolated moment.” The clerk replies, “That’s because she’s not. It’s just the trigger to associate old memories with the one she’ll make inside.” He then goes on to explain how consciousness is made up of experience. And for Jessica Ender to continue building new memories, new experiences, frequent visitations by friends and family are required.

    Audience reaction to this film has been across the board and sparked a lot of debate – which is a good thing. But ultimately, my intent was to show technology in a positive light. Although bittersweet, the final moments were meant to inspire hope. The dialogue and tech explanations during the sales pitch scene are key to achieving that. Apologies if it wasn’t clear.

    Thanks for watching!

    Trevin Matcek

  2. Kay

    June 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you for commenting, Trevin! I didn’t get the point about the stored consciousness being able to continue to build new experiences, but that’s a nice touch. No need to apologize for your vision — I think the debate that has been stirred is valuable, and part of enjoying your film is taking the next step intellectually to consider what a scenario like that might mean for yourself or your loved ones. Thank you for sharing your work with all of us.


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