Eternal life is appealing. Undeniably appealing.
The alluring desire to stave off death (and possibly the very gradual cultural shift away from an acceptance of death) might be part of the cultural underpinnings that have spawned a wave of life-forever artificial intelligence companies. Here’s three companies founded to help us reach digital eternity.
- Humai. Serious Wonder (run by Gray Scott, a previous guest on the Emerj podcast) recent interviewed the founder of Humai for an IEET article which can be found here.
- Forever. Forever founder Fabrizio Gramuglio was previously a guest on our program (episode can be found here).
- Eternime. Founder Marius Ursache found his way into the New Yorker in 2014 (significantly farther than more whiz-bang live-forever AI companies might hope to get, press-wise), and currently has the software open for private beta.
How will the world deal with technology that replicates deceased persons? The fact of the matter is that we don’t know, and my supposition is that society’s response (whenever the technology gets up to speed) will be as varied as the aims of the fledgling companies in this space.
Humai, for one, aims to literally bring people back to life through a combination of cryogenic technology and nanotechnology (an ambitious goal that the company’s founder estimates may take 30 years of concerted effort and technological development).
Forever monetizes historical representations of past famous persons, and would have no problem creating a digital representation of you that could hold conversations with your relatives keep your “self,” memories, and personality intact.
Eternime’s founder seems to be against the idea of a digital representation “subbing in” for the real person. A quote from Marius’ New Yorker interview is telling:
“The avatar acts as a librarian, helping users make sense of the stored information… We’re not trying to replace the person who died.”
I suppose that’s a safe way to frame it – certainly nobody who has a loved one dies will feel warranted in paying for a “replacement.” We don’t want to do that to our pets, never mind our dead parents, spouses, or children.
These are interesting considerations in both applications and (admittedly touchy) marketing that we as a society haven’t addressed yet. It seems quite reasonable to me that having an AI representation of a person will be more important in management and in business than it will for personal reasons.
It would be great to have an holograph of your real living project manager who could answer live questions from 100 employees at once… all while editing the AI / responses of the software with the “real” human knowledge of that person. It seems that this will be a more immediate business case, one void of much of the post-mortem “creepiness,” and with clear monetary value outside of novelty.
It’ll be interesting to see what shakes out in the coming decades. Maybe a holographic grandma will hit the mainstream before holographic managers. My intuition leads me to think otherwise.