Is this the era of digital immortality?
Recently I bought a new phone, and I’m not going to lie, I am not the best with all the faff of making sure all my numbers are saved in the correct place and what not. So after shouting at my phone a million times about where the hell all my photos had gone, it suddenly occurred to me that this is not actually a problem; all of my much loved memories will be stored on one of my much loved social media platforms.
Within this digital era, preserving memories is a lot simpler to do. Most people will have access to a social network of some sort which they can store everything they need. Personally, I never have to remember any birthdays. Ever. Facebook does it all for me, so if I miss one, I really am just a bad friend. Of course this is all very helpful whilst we are alive and kicking, but what if we could preserve memories throughout our lifetime for when we have kicked the bucket?
Eterni.me - with the tagline, Do you want to live forever? - is an online platform which allows you to store your most cherished memories, thoughts and stories. It works like this; while you are alive you let Eterni.me gain access to all your accounts, from social networks to location history to emails. This data is collected and analysed before being transferred to an AI avatar which emulates your looks and personality. The avatar learns more and more about you as you interact while alive, with the aim to more closely reflect you as time goes on. This is just one of many companies popping up to help create an interactive legacy, so you will never be forgotten.
It’s extremely interesting as these companies are tapping into one of humanity’s biggest unspoken fears, being forgotten once they have passed on.
It’s possible that in years to come, my great great grandchildren might be able to ‘connect’ with me through platforms like this - an exciting concept to say the least.
Even though this might change our relationship with death, it might not be that accurate. I know that if an avatar analysed my Facebook profile, it would definitely not reflect me accurately! So what if it was possible to record the contents of our mind in its entirety instead of a snapshot from our social media?
Investment in the area appears to be forthcoming with Google heavily investing in brain emulation with the Google Brain project, which aims to mimic aspects of the human brain. There seems to be a wide community of scientists who believe that within their lifetime, it will be possible to create a digital backup of a human brain.
However, will there also be issues surrounding this? For example, if we knew that our thoughts and memories were all being recorded - would we act the same? Would we live a full life? There are a lot of unanswered questions. Perhaps we all desire to be remembered, but there are only parts that we hope are remembered.
- The advancement of AI & digital may mean that in the future we will be able to store our memories;
- The implications that a post-mortem digital continuity could have on the way we live and perceive death are immense.