It’s been common practice for decades – and probably longer – for terminally ill parents to write letters to their children. The idea is for parents to be able to communicate to their offspring as the kids get older and are able to handle more mature messages. Some parents leave letters to be opened at specific times, like a 16th birthday, college graduation or wedding. Not surprisingly, these letters are being supplemented and superseded by legacy videos, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article (A Mother’s Last Gift to Her Children May Be a Legacy Video).
Multiple organizations – including Just So You Know and Thru My Eyes – have been set up to enable patients to make these videos for free. I think it’s a great idea. I would record such a video myself in the same situation. Many surviving children and other family members find the videos to be a source of comfort, and the ill patient often finds the process therapeutic.
There are some challenges, though. As the article says,
“Legacy videos also can sometimes contain painful messages, overbearing advice or wishes that the children don’t feel they can carry out.”
That got me thinking about how the evolution of technology will inevitably take us beyond the legacy video. In the not-too-distant future technologies including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing may enable legacy projects that are a lot more powerful, with the potential to be more comforting and meaningful but also more invasive and even spooky. And going even further, what happens when someone’s entire brain can be downloaded and ported to a new medium?
Not to be too futuristic, but it’s reasonable to expect that these videos will evolve into something a lot more lifelike and interactive within a few years. The potential for good is real, but we’ll have to navigate through some sensitive issues to make sure that’s the case.
What do you think? Would you record a legacy video? Have you received one? Would you want to be the producer or recipient of something more interactive? Let me know in the comments section or @HealthBizBlog