Digital life after death is technically impossible yet

The creators of the series “Black Mirror” devoted several series of the last season to digital copies of a man. How soon will the ability to create virtual clones become a reality, and can a person leave his digital analog after death? This question is asked by columnist Guardian Olivia Solon, who found that at least three start-ups are already working on technologies for the preservation of personality in digital form.

In the next 30 years, about 3 billion people will die leaving behind a digital footprint in social networks and on the sites of large IT companies. This forecast leads Karl Eman, an employee of the Oxford Institute of the Internet. Ehman’s specialization could hardly have been imagined even 20-30 years ago – he is exploring the ethics of digital life after death.

The expert is sure that in the future large corporations will try to benefit from the digital “heritage”. “If keeping dead people’s accounts is expensive, companies will want to monetize it somehow,” the researcher said in an interview with the Guardian.

So far, initiatives to create digital copies of people are mostly owned by small start-ups. One of them is the AI-startup with Russian roots Replika, which is headed by Eugene Kuida. The project appeared after the tragic death of Kuid’s friend Roman Mazurenko – he died in an accident. The founder of Replika asked Roman’s friends and relatives to upload his messages to the neural network and created a chatbot that was reminiscent of a friend. According to Kuida, the virtual avatar helped her to be more honest and open – he trusted her that she could not tell anyone else.

Replika mobile application appeared after this project, but its intention is somewhat different. The company creates a chatbot-companion, which adapts to the user and, getting to know him better, turns into an increasingly interesting and close-minded interlocutor.

A start-up Eter9 also works on saving a digital copy of a person after death. The company develops a social network based on AI, which constantly learns from the user and gradually creates its virtual duplicate. It is assumed that in future the digital copy will be able to “live” after the death of the user and even act on his behalf.

Another project, in the name of which the word eternity is encrypted, is Eterni.me. The system collects users’ posts in social networks and creates an imitation of the human personality in the mobile application. “We want to leave in eternity memories, ideas and stories of billions of people. We create something like a library, but instead of books, people are stored in it, “says Eterni.me.

However, the existing technologies are far from convincing digital avatars, as in the series USS Callister or Black Museum of the series “Black Mirror”. Modern technologies make it possible to recreate only the semblance of a real person, using machine learning and large data. Sometimes phrases or ideas of a real person will slip in the chatbot’s speech, but he will not be able to think anyway.

According to the futurist Zoltan Istvan, science still does not understand how the human mind works. However, brain activity can be simulated, because the principle of its operation is more like a machine. “You just need to pick up an approach to it,” Istvan said.

In the future, digital copies will be easier to create not by collecting data in social networks, but by collecting data directly from the brain with the help of a neurointerface. Over the “neyrokruzhevom” is the startup Ilona Mask Neuralink.

Kernel also plans to develop a neural interface that will help establish communication with patients with memory loss and neurodegenerative diseases. But even the head of Kernel, Brian Johnson, admits that for now it is far: “There are more than 80 billion neurons in the human brain. And our instruments still give us access to about 100 neurons. ”

Although digital “replicants” are still far away, many experts are already thinking about ethics and privacy when creating virtual avatars after the death of a person. Will you need to get permission for this during the life of a person? Who will manage the user’s data? And will it benefit the close ones to communicate with a digital analogue instead of a real person?