Eternal life, detached from the fleshly, haptic prison of the body, imperishability, omnipresence: paradise as imagined by the common Christian and similarly by other members of the faith. The entrance to transcendental bliss is commonly pictorially depicted on a cloud. "Pah, how hackneyed", you, gentle reader, may be tempted to say. Not at all. For what may be a question of faith for us humans has long been a certainty for our data: the cloud leads them to a timeless existence independent of earthly vessels.
What, dear temporary participants, is data, you ask? "Everything," I answer. What, I might counter, is the human being? Admittedly, not a trivial question for a small, albeit significant column like this, but please: let us not freeze out of fear of complexity like Niobe before the loss of her beloved.
You are data, I am data. Scenes from our lives, once stored in the bulging, flabby bundle of nerves in our head, later in the photo album, finally digitally on a hard drive to which only we had access. But now: everything in the cloud. Age, body measurements, certificates, CVs, network of all friends, patient data, appointment calendar, eating habits, Grandma Ottilie's top-secret cheesecake recipe. Everything there, everything networked, everything bundled, everything preserved for eternity. Nothing is forgotten, disappears in the junk drawer under 25 promotional key rings and free ballpoint pens, or is left in the old biscuit tin behind the fireplace when we move. The regular billing of the provider reminds us where we keep our lives. Everything is digitally present in the form of data. Data that no longer belongs to us, but to the cloud.
They are data, I am data. Scenes from our lives, once stored in the bulging, flabby bundle of nerves in our head, later in the photo album, finally digitally on a hard drive to which only we had access. But now: everything in the cloud.
Let us now pause for a moment and consider what we have created. A virtual substitute reality that is preparing to make the material world obsolete. Our only connection to the new world: our account, the key to eternity. If we lose it, we stand before the river Styx, but without the coin to pay the ferryman for the crossing. As long as the account exists, we are eternal. It makes our data, our memory, our soul immortal, like one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes that kept him alive even after his death. But I can't come back to life. Whereas in the past all that was needed was a shoebox to leave everything necessary for the bereaved, now it requires more of a living will as to when my accounts may be switched off. Or will I simply bequeath my accounts? So will my children just live on with my digital life? Might it even be appropriate to simply transfer my accumulated achievements as a generous donation to an individual who has been less fortunate in life? What a transhumanist dream: I am dead, but my life goes on.
Our only connection to the new world: our account, key to eternity. If we lose it, we stand before the river Styx, but without the coin to pay the ferryman for the crossing.
Let's stay with the earthly, with this world. It sounds tempting at first: the material world is difficult to organise. Floppy disks, USB sticks, hard drives, difficult to keep in order, and guaranteed not to be at hand when you need it. The cloud, eternal and omnipresent deity, is simply always there. Unless, of course, the seeker is in a digitally developing country without widespread internet, Haiti, Namibia, Bangladesh or Germany. I can't even imagine it: on the road in the barren prairie of Brandenburg, my data and services so close and yet unreachable, my life out of reach. Dehumanised, deindividuated, robbed of its past. Let's not kid ourselves, dear readers: as long as we ourselves are denied access to the cloud, we will be eternally condemned to be separated from all our beloved data, left behind in the dreary here and now as a cheap avatar representing our true, binary entity in the world of flesh and dirt. Man is recreating the Garden of Eden. But he has forgotten to build an entrance for himself.
Your Strigalt von Entf
*Our "Feuill-IT-ong" format is created in collaboration with the two freelance writers Tobias Lauterbach und Daniel Al-Kabbani who occasionally contribute to the satire platform "Der Postillon". Under the pseudonym Strigalt von Entf, they report on current events from the world of technology – always with a wink! ;-)