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Virtual Reality: The dead live again

By Iovanna Borjas

Benjamin Franklin said, “the only thing certain in life is death.” We all know it. Death will come knocking at our door one day and there is nothing we can do to avoid it. 

However, no matter how inevitable death is, humans keep trying to find ways to prolong life as much as they can. Medicine and religion have always given us some sort of comfort when it comes to death. We invented millions of cures and machines to keep us alive. We created an afterlife to live on after death. But none of these seem to be enough to contain our natural desire to perpetually stay alive. 

A South Koren documentary called Meeting You features the story of a mother who reunites with her dead daughter through Virtual Reality (VR). The documentary has taken over the internet and has impressed many with how realistic the encounter is. 

So here we are now. We have found a way to bring the dead back to life. According to Fox News, the little girl “died in 2016 at the age of seven from an unidentified illness.” Her mother must have spent many excruciating hours by her side trying to understand the unfair concept of death. She must be still grieving for her, as her daughter’s death probably took a heavy psychological toll on her. In my experience, no one overcomes the pain of losing a loved one. People just adapt themselves to what happened and carry on as much as they can. 

Since this whole VR concept is new, there is no specific evidence as to how this might affect those who try the experience. I personally don’t think this is healthy. I believe that death happens for a reason and that no one should mess with the way nature works. 

Grief is one of the most painful experiences someone can go through. It never gets easier, but people learn how to live without those who are gone. As someone who has dealt with grief, I can confidently say that the hardest part is to believe your loved one has actually died. 

This is what raises my concerns when it comes to using VR to reunite with the dead. Believing someone is gone is a major step when struggling with grief. How will people understand this when they can see and hear whoever died? How will a child understand what death is when they can log into a program and see their family again? 

The show Black Mirror has a whole episode about a similar technology to the one used in Meeting You. In the episode “Be Right Back,” the protagonist is able to interact with her dead husband after technology was able to recreate him in a physical form. Like any other Black Mirror episode, the ending was not a happy one, as the protagonist realizes that this artificial intelligence will never be enough to replace her real husband. 

We are definitely not there yet, but I have no doubt that technology will be able to achieve this one day. This is a scary reality and one that should be contained. People are at risk of becoming obsessed with the idea of using technology to bring back the dead. Wanting someone to come back is a natural desire, but I think people must understand that this will never replace a living person. 

We need to stop playing God and start working on accepting the things we can’t change. Let’s allow nature to follow its course and understand that everything in life has a purpose. We have to honor the dead by remembering them as they were and the legacies they left behind.

Iovanna Borjas can be reached at iovanna.borjas@theminaretonline.com

 

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