Thursday, October 19, 2017

Life after Death and the Future of Avatars

June 6, 2009 by · 91 Comments 

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I recently saw the new Caprica TV Show / Movie and was struck by how much they had borrowed the concept of the avatar from the book ‘The Seeker’ where the crew of the space vessel used the avatars of dead people to interact with them.

The premiseĀ  is simple:

During your life you create a digital footprint. This footprint is made up of pictures, videos, twitter posts, facebook posts and comments, digg reviews, rented movies via netflix, purchased gadget via Amazon, books read, blogs favorited via google reader, comments left on blogs, etc. This digital footprint could, in theory, be so complete, that perhaps an artificial intelligence engince could extrapolate what the real person would say or do, and hence, the theory of avatars for life after death was born.

<Caprica spoiler>

In “Caprica”, the lead female character dies in an explosion. She had left a virtual character , an avatar, of herself in a game she played with her friends, after her death, her father discovers this avatar and then tries to download it into a new ‘body’ effectively resuscitating his daughter.

</Caprica Spoiler>

In another book, “Altered Carbon”, the concept comes up in a different way, in that people can be ‘sleeved’ from body to body, but having their ‘core’ transferred. With the inclusion of ‘avatar data’ you could perhaps even re-sleeve someone that was long dead.

So, in the future, will we be capable of extending the life of someone like Einstein? Perhaps giving them immortality? Although I’m not sure I can say that the sleeving process is one that is feasible, I wouldn’t doubt it if not too far in the future you would be able to ‘guess’ what someone might say or do in a given context if an AI program would use the data collected from the Internet about that person. After all, we all do it to some extent when see what a person’s style is like after reading several of their posts on Twitter, for example. Additionally, reconstructing an avatar to speak about one subject of interest I think will be easier than taking the avatar concept to the point where the whole randomness of a being’s consciousness could be replicated for complete interaction.

Anyway, I was amused to see the concept being used again and again… kind of what like precedes the invention of many new technologies. To quote the song from Highlander: “Who wants to live forever?”

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