Digital Immortality: New Social Network Learns Your Personality and Keeps Posting After Your Death
In the second series premiere of Black Mirror, which starred Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson, a woman signs up for a service that uses social media profiles to allow people to "keep in touch" with deceased loved ones. Now, that service might actually exist in real life, as a new Portuguese social networking site uses artificial intelligence to learn a user's social media habits and continue posting after the user's death.
ETER9, which was created by AUTO.NET, stores all of the user's information from the site as "virtual memories," allowing the AI version of yourself, called the Counterpart, to learn how you behave and to mimic your behaviors in your absence.
This could be as innocuous as making a few posts while you're on a weeklong vacation, but it could also lead to an entirely creepy form of "digital immortality." The user can choose to allow the Counterpart to post in their stead in perpetuity, and if the technology becomes advanced enough that the AI can truly "learn" your personality, then loved ones could potentially continue to interact with a digital version of you for the rest of their lives.
While any kind of immortality can be made to sound appealing (although if you ask me, the above quote sounds like a f*cking cult), like many aspects of social media, it seems like a poor substitute. There's only so much that social media reveals about a person (and, indeed, it's probably not the best parts of a person's character), and talking to an AI that can mimic the behavior of a loved one without any of their emotions or thought processes sounds more than a little disturbing.
But what if a more holistic digital immortality were possible? In that episode of Black Mirror, Atwell's character becomes disillusioned with her late husband's "Counterpart," which has been downloaded into an identical body, because it doesn't have emotions or a will of its own, as her husband did. But if we someday discovered a means to exactly replicate our brains and upload it into an artificial body, achieving actual digital immortality, it may be an entirely different question.