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Virtual Person

"Science and science fiction, how do you even distinguish the two?"
- Jerry Pournelle

Adam Selene  
  A computer generates a human avatar for itself.  

In the novel, the computer called Mike takes the part of the leader in a lunar revolution - Adam Selene. As a computer, Mike can handle innumerable phone calls about the revolution without danger to the human participants. Eventually, it becomes necessary for Mike to show himself.

"...what's to keep me from showing face, Man? I'm showing a voice this instant... I can show a face the same way."

Was so taken aback I didn't answer... I said, "No, Mike."

"Why not, Man?"

"Because you can't!. Voice you handle beautifully. Involves only a few thousand decisions a second, a slow crawl to you. But to build up a video picture would require, say, ten million decisions every second. Mike, you're so fast I can't even think about it. But you aren't that fast."

Mike said softly, "Want to bet, Man?"

...We waited in silence. Then screen showed neutral gray with a hint of scan lines. Went black again, then a faint light filled middle and congealed into cloudy areas light and dark, ellipsoid. Not a face, but suggestion of face that one sees in cloud patterns...

It cleared a little and reminded me of pictures alleged to be ectoplasm. A ghost of a face.

Suddenly firmed and we saw "Adam Selene."

Was a still picture of a mature man. No background, just a face as if trimmed out of a print...

Then he smiled, moving lips and jaw and touching tongue to lips, a quick gesture...

From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by GP Putnam in 1966
Additional resources -

As far as I know, this is the first reference to the idea of a computer-generated person that presents a fully animated picture of a human being.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Adam Selene-related news articles:
  - Facial Expression And Mannerism 'Cloning' By Computer
  - Denise, Your Virtual Assistant

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Denise, Your Virtual Assistant
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