Digital immortality: who wants to live forever?
I don’t know if you realize this fact, but each of us leads two lives. One in the real and the other in the virtual space. Have you ever wondered what will happen to our digital footprints (letters, comments on social networks, photos, accounts and what not) when our physical “I” is mentioned? Judging by the idea of the creative entrepreneurs from Eterni.me, it seems that thanks to them one day the Internet will become part not only of earthly but also of our afterlife.
Interactive digital avatars
The goal of Eterni.me is to create a digital avatar that will store important thoughts, stories and memories of a user forever. In this way, one day, when the person dies, his relatives will be able to interact with him on the Internet. As if he had never been buried. He will respond to messages on Skype, post statuses on social networks, like their photos from the last vacation and what not.
“We want to keep the memories, ideas, creations and stories of billions of people around the world forever. Imagine something like a library, but instead of books, it is full of people or an interactive story of present and future generations. A priceless treasure of humanity “, say the creators of Eterni.me.
If their idea becomes a reality, we will be able to keep our parents’ memories forever. Even we ourselves will continue to exist in the virtual world in the form of a digital avatar that will mimic our character and continue to communicate with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On the one hand, the archival value of such a digital “library” of avatars is undeniable. On the other hand, this idea will alleviate (to some extent) the pain of losing a loved one. Interacting with such an avatar is likely to be a bittersweet experience. However, when we know that the “man” opposite has been reconstructed on the basis of personal data, we will probably be able to find some comfort in communicating with him.
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If ten years ago such an idea seemed unthinkable, today, thanks to the pace at which new technologies are evolving, it is completely achievable. It could even be further developed through virtual reality and even 3D printing and lead to the creation of real avatars / robots that look exactly like our loved ones. A similar idea was even touched upon in the first episode of season 2 of “The Black Mirror” (I highly recommend it!).
The fact is that all this sounds a little sinister. And there will always be doubts in such endeavors. However, our online personalities rarely reflect anything more than a drop of our true nature. This inevitably raises the question of how realistic our virtual copies will be. According to Shelley Kagan, a professor of philosophy at Yale University, even if we register our grandmother in companies like Eterni.me, after her death we will never be able to write to her in the true sense of the word. “On a metaphysical level, it’s going to be like chatting with her photocopy, the accuracy of which is in question,” she said.
Is Prof. Kagan right? Time will tell. But one thing is for sure – “Until death do us part” is no longer the only option.