What we learnt at CloudSec: life, death and Twitter

Before you get too excited about the down and dirty world of cloud security, we should warn you this is more of a light-hearted report on the quirky things we picked up at CloudSec.

First of all, let’s start in the world of social media and artificial intelligence. This is a bit of a dark and weird one so if you are a bit overwhelmed by some of the tech quirks of the world, you might want to scroll down a couple of paragraphs.

Do you know what happens to your social media accounts when you die?

It isn’t necessarily something you want to think about, but it is something worth thinking about. If everyone pushed aside this thought, there would surely be some nefarious characters who would try their hand at identity theft. But there are processes.

On Facebook, you have either the option to shut down the page, or memorialize it. This is the same on Instagram. LinkedIn automatically shuts down the account, and on Twitter you have to fill out a form to shut down the account of a recently deceased family member or friend.

But what about letting yourself live on in the digital world, allowing an artificial intelligence programme to be you. We told you this might get a bit dark.

EterniMe is a small company which is offering a private Beta of its services for the moment. Essentially you sign up, and various artificial intelligence technologies plug themselves into your digital world, learning about you. Once you die, the AI programme takes over, essentially creating an undead avatar of yourself which can interact with family members and friends.

Witch zombie from smartphone. Zombie girl comes out of phone gadget. Illustration for Halloween

If the machine learning algorithms are good enough, it should be able to figure out what you like, the slang you use, your personality traits and your habits. In theory, if the developers at EterniMe are clever enough, people should be able to have a conversation with your undead avatar without realizing the difference.

It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. It’s so true that in fact 37,602 people have signed up. That’s 37,602 who will never ‘die’ in the virtual world.

Other people are entitled to do what they want in their lives, but this is straight-up weird. If your correspondent posts a drunken Tweet at 4am, he does not need his Grandmother tutting and condemning from beyond the grave. But, on a more serious note, how will affect grieving family and friends? Will they ever be able to truly move on if Bob is popping up for a quick chat on Facebook six months after he died?

Every technological breakthrough brings about some weird use cases, and this one ranks pretty highly. Why can’t someone come up with a sober AI who realizes how much people have had to drink and veto’s drunk-dials and texts? That could be pretty useful.

We’re going to stick to the world of social media, but this time the world of the living in Spain. More specifically, we heading to Granada, where there is a town of around 3500 called Jun. At first glance, it looks like a lovely town, but what if we were to tell you the whole place runs on social media.

This is not necessarily new, but it is the first we’ve heard of it. Imagine a town where the primarily way to communicate with government officials, administrators or services was through Twitter. That’s what we have here.

If you want to speak to the local authority, you send them a tweet. Let’s say the drain in your street is blocked. You tweet the council, they retweet to the right person, and then work begins. Once the problem is resolved, you get a tweet in return and continue on your day.

Some people might think that this is a ridiculous idea, but in a small town, where there will be a limited number of problems, we can see it working. There is a new level of transparency and accountability, which should be present in every council around the world, but let’s be honest with ourselves. Such an idea wouldn’t work in a city the size of London, but it is working in Jun.

Another advantage is bridging the digital skills gap with older demographics. If the primary means of communicated with the city council is to use Twitter, then people will use it. The more older demographics are using social media, the more digitally ready they will be for things like online banking and cat videos.



Finally, another interesting little website we were told about was one called Have I Been Pwned. It sounds dodgy, but we would highly recommend checking it out.

It’s very simple. You type your email address into the search bar in the middle of the screen, hit search, and then the website tells your personal information has been leaked online. Your correspondent has been pwned! twice on his personal email address, though another delegate at the event put his details in (it was a Yahoo account…) and there was a bit more exposure there…

On one side of the coin, it serves as a timely reminder how careful individuals should be about giving out personal information willy-nilly, but there is also perhaps a negative side to the website. Maybe showing people how many times their information has been compromised by hackers will lead to ‘breach fatigue’. This might be an attitude of, ‘it’s already out there, so I don’t need to be as careful anymore’. That could be a disastrous mind set to cultivate.

These little snippets aren’t going to change your life, but they might make lunch time a bit more enjoyable.

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