Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
How much of the trail you leave on the internet, your search requests, your dictations to Google or Apple, would be necessary to convincingly recreate your personality?
...the idea of growing old and dying is, for most Silicon Valley denizens, the furthest thing from their mind. As a former medic from Romania, [Marius] Ursache thinks about death more than most people. He has even turned it into a job. As the creator and founder of a startup called Eterni.me, he spends his days working toward the dream of building Artificially Intelligent 3- D avatars: digital beings that will look, sound and, most important of all, act like individuals who are no longer with us. Ursache’s journey began several years ago when he became fascinated by the game Second Life, a vast online virtual world created by the San Francisco- based developers Linden Labs. Although Second Life resembles a computer game, it differs in one crucial sense. Rather than featuring set objectives and manufactured storylines, players in Second Life refer to themselves as “residents” of the game, and participate in any way that they wish, whether that means running a shop, or simply hanging out with friends.
“One day, I started wondering what happens to a person’s avatar in the game after they die,” Ursache says. Was there, he pondered, a kind of Second Life purgatory where abandoned avatars lived on in a zombie-like state, long after their human operators had passed away? What would happen if one tried to interact with these avatars?
...He pitched the idea to the group as “Skyping with dead people,” and hurried to note that a lot of the AI technology needed to bring such a project to life already existed in various labs around the world. Despite the group receiving a total of 130 ideas— of which Ursache acknowledges his was the oddest— “Skyping with dead people”was accepted as a project worth pursuing.
As far as I know, Arthur C. Clarke was the first to present a complete version of this idea. Read this excerpt from Arthur C. Clarke's 1956 novel The City and the Stars :
In the end our ancestors learned how to analyze and store the information which would define any specific human being - and to use that information to recreate the original...
Suffice it to say that long ago they were able to store themselves - or, to be more precise, the disembodied patters from which they could be called back into existence.
(Read about virtual immortality)
Interested in Eterni.me? You might like this earlier article, which has more science fiction references - Digital Immortality For Your Personality.
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