There’s a battle brewing in the avatar industry. The battle for your mind. Your brain. Or to be more specific, the backup of your brain.
The contenders are CloneME and iDroid. Both want to get you subscribed to their ‘immortality’ service. So you can live forever – virtually of course.
You might say that 130 years is enough for one lifetime, and you know your children will live to 150, or longer. But maybe their grandchildren would like to meet you ‘in the flesh’ as it were, instead of relying on 3D videos and holographic chatbots to get to know you.
iDroid is already offering an extremely high level robot, modelled to look and move just like you. With your memories and experiences downloaded to its ‘brain’, it watches you and learns to mimic your every move. When you’ve passed on, your iDroid avatar is there to comfort your loved ones, and act as a constant legacy of memories.
CloneME goes one better, building an artificial person, based on your genome. The synthetic duplicate is fed your brainload through direct cortex connection, and hey, presto! Welcome to ME2. At least that’s the theory. CloneME still has to overcome the global ban on synthesizing complete humans.
“If we build the complete body, without a brain, and put in an AI module, that can’t be called a human,” claims Dr Gary Craig. “Then you teach it to act like you. Everyone knows it’s not you, just a replica.”
Teachers, actors and business presenters can’t wait – replicas are just the thing to double your workload – at half the effort.
Whoever wins the avatar war, one thing’s for sure: Long after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, your ‘presence’ will still continue to be physically felt.
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
From New Scientist:
Though there is little prospect of creating a genuinely conscious robo-clone in the foreseeable future, several companies are taking the first steps in that direction. Their initial goal is to enable you to create a lifelike digital representation, or avatar, that can continue long after your biological body has decomposed. This digitised “twin” might be able to provide valuable lessons for your great-grandchildren – as well as giving them a good idea of what their ancestor was like.
Ultimately, however, they aim to create a personalised, conscious avatar embodied in a robot – effectively enabling you, or some semblance of you, to achieve immortality. “If you can upload yourself into this digital form, it could live forever,” says Nick Mayer of Lifenaut, a US company that is exploring ways to build lifelike avatars. “It really is a way of avoiding death.”
An example, of how realistic avatars can be made to be, is demonstrated in this video from the Emily Project by Image Metrics.
FUTURESTATES explores this theme more fully in the episode PIA: When a woman in mourning encounters a mysterious wandering service android, she is forced to redefine its conceptions of humanity, relationships, and family. Watch the full episode at http://futurestates.tv/episodes/pia.