The idea of uploading the human brain onto a computer has obsessed futurists and neuroscientists for decades. By transferring our minds into machines we could theoretically live forever, untethered by the frailty of the physical body.
The Silicon Valley-based startup Eterni.me aims to let people do just that, preserving their “most important thoughts, stories, and memories” in an interface that communicates with others after its creator has passed away. Such a network could help comfort mourning loved ones and allow future generations unprecedented access to their ancestors.
Eterni.me stores data from social media, email, photos, video and location information. While you are living, you can maintain and add to this content, choosing privacy settings to determine what information you want stored and made public. The service then allows you to create a list of people who will be contacted and given access to your account upon your death, granting family and friends quick and easy access to your most personal memories.
“A hundred years down the track you might not only be able to talk to your mom who died a year ago, but to your grandmother who died when you were sixteen, and your great-grandmother who died before you was born,” said Susan Bluck, a psychology professor at the University of Florida. “So it means that we could, in some way, forge relations with ancestors who lived and died well before our own lifetime.”
The defining feature of Eterni.me is a 3-D digital avatar, designed to look and sound like its creator, whose job it is to mimic their personality and provide information to users from a stored database. Creators may “train” their avatar through daily interactions in order to improve its vocabulary and fine tune its likeness.
Eterni.me founder Marius Ursache says he plans to conduct a test group early next year. The app will connect to a user’s Facebook account and launch micro-conversations based on their daily activities. This process will build the interface’s understanding of its creator, enabling it to function like a smarter, more personalized version of the chatbots of yesteryear.
“We chose this approach because we would like to help people solve the ‘blank page syndrome’ we have often seen when somebody tries to write in their diary,” Ursache said. “We want to encourage people to start curating their digital legacy and we will do that by triggering conversations based on previously collected data of what they did, felt, or experienced.”
Although still in its early stages, Eterni.me may offer us a way to build monuments to ourselves. The service allows us to mesh our memories and experiences with all our data and organize it into a platform that future generations can use to learn about who we were. Until we can really can upload our brains to a computer, it’s our best shot at immortality.
Source: NBC News