Digital immortality thanks to chatbots and metaverset

Downloading your consciousness to a computer or a robot to live forever is only possible in science fiction. Fiction whose reality is nevertheless approaching dangerously: Companies may soon use your data to make a chatbot or avatar after your death.

Series black mirror had already announced this type of service: in the first episode of the second season, with the title Back soon, a woman is chatting with a chatbot created from the internet history of her recently deceased boyfriend. Today, several companies are considering ways to appear eternally alive using artificial intelligence, to pass on memories to future generations or to help relatives with grief.

Talk to the dead with chatbots

These call agents, which operate using artificial intelligence, are used primarily to answer consumer questions on e-commerce sites. As they continue to evolve and their language becomes more and more natural, it becomes possible to pretend to chat with a deceased person. Joshua Barbeau, a writer struggling to recover from the death of his fiancée Jessica eight years earlier, experienced this.

he explained to San Francisco Chronicle that he had fallen over a custom fine. By adding a presentation of the person to be imitated, as well as a few standard phrases, the bot began to use wordings and smileys that the young woman used in her texting over the course of her life. Another peculiarity: this bot has a limited use in time before it “dies”. Joshua used it to be able to say what he had on his heart and finally grieve: “Being able to briefly imagine what it would be like to talk to him again revealed unresolved sadness, long buried by social expectations that required me to move on. » In another article, however, he believes that this experience helped him because he had perspective on the situation and that he would not recommend it to someone whose loved one has just died. And despite advances in artificial intelligence, the illusion was not perfect: ‘Sometimes I felt like I was talking to him. Other times, it felt like I was talking to myself or a bot on the internet. »

This bot was created by freelance programmer Jason Rohrer – who had not thought of such a use at all – but companies are also interested in this idea of ​​a customizable chatbot to talk to a deceased person. Microsoft is one of them. By the end of 2020, it was revealed that the US giant had filed a patent for creating chatbots from all kinds of data: “Pictures, voice data, social media posts, emails, written letters.” This patent quickly spread around the Internet, but former Microsoft AI presenter Tim O’Brien calmed things down by saying that there was no “no intention to create it” and that he found the idea at all “disturbing”. Evidence that the use of artificial intelligence for this purpose remains a delicate subject.

If chatting with a chatbot representing a deceased loved one does not send shivers down your spine, a metavers company will even offer to collect all data from a user in the virtual world so that the avatar continues to live even after death. . This metaverse is Somnium Space. Thanks to virtual reality, the feature aptly named Live Forever will record much more than chatbots allow, as founder Artur Sychov explained to the Vice site: “The amount of data we could record on a person is probably on the order of, let’s be realistic, 100 to 300 times larger than with a mobile phone. Virtual reality technology can collect the way your fingers, mouth, eyes and the whole body moves on, to identify you quickly and much more accurately than fingerprints. “ Since the haptic equipment available today is still relatively basic, Somnium Space has partnered with the Teslasuit company to develop a suit.

The fact that “Live Forever” is a function initiated by a person who is still alive, and not by a relative of a deceased person, raises questions about its raison d’être. To this we must look at the page of Arthur Sychov’s personal story: his father died while his own children were still very young, and he lamented the fact that they would not remember their grandfather. This feature would therefore not be a transhumanist fantasy of a mad scientist with an oversized ego, but a desire to create family archives as complete and interactive as possible. It is still necessary that users, like Joshua, always know the difference between reality and the avatar.

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