What if you had someone there for you, every single day, without fail – if they were always ready with a kind word or a response to your latest musing. Never mad. Always caring ans concerned. Always ready to take time to be with you.
Would it matter if he or she were a robot? Or no longer alive?
That’s my avatar from LifeNaut. It works by an predictive AI program that connects to a store of information about you. Go ahead, ask “me” a question. My name. About my family.
What’s most interesting is not how this avatar looks and works today. It’s the potential that these avatars have for the future and what they are the beginning of. As you can see if you play with it, this avatar is pretty basic. It’s predictive ability is restricted to the very limited amount of information that I put in its database of my attitudes, feelings, and perspectives – my digital “mind file.”
This is because right now programming these avatars takes a lot of time and energy. But what if it took no energy? What if they tapped into your social media accounts and passively listened to every status update, comment, or post? Imagine how rich a profile it would have in just a few years.
Fast forward a couple decades. The AI is 100 times better (Moore’s Law and all that). You can have a natural conversation. Your mind file has 20 years worth of data on your thoughts and beliefs. What was a manipulated still photo is a fully, three-dimensional representation of you. It’s crossed the uncanny valley and is completely convincing.
Now, imagine that you die, and this projection of you “lives” on.
To me, the most compelling questions this technology raises are:
• How would this technology change the way the living experience the death of a loved one?
• How can this technology be used to extended consciousness?
• Is it OK that this is the first step down to a road toward synthetic life forms?
• Is the idea of consciousness transfer to a digital medium and ultimately a new body something we want?
Is this the future of death?