What will you do when you know the end of your life?
When many people hear this question, they may feel a little bit in their hearts, or they may freeze in place. In truth, this is an extremely difficult question to answer, and it is also a heavy question. Most people will not encounter this situation in their lives. People always live in the present.
But for Lucy (lucy), this is not the case. Due to her physical health constraints, this is a question she has to think about, and her answer is relatively special-put her social media account, recorded video, and even Personality characteristics and other data are stored in the form of data, leaving this "digital heritage" to their relatives, friends, etc.
Digitize the traces of life and give it to the person you love most
How to deal with social media accounts after a person's death has always been a hot topic. Returning accounts to immediate family members, destroying them after asking for their consent… There are various answers.
The reason why Lucy chose a special answer is closely related to her life experience.
Lucy suffers from an unknown illness and cannot take care of herself. Most of her daily life is between a wheelchair and a bed. Even food needs to be transported by pipes. She needs 24 hours of nursing care. Staying with her mother has become her daily routine, especially during the epidemic. In the case of unable to go out.
But this did not hinder Lucy’s optimistic life, because physical limitations cannot often lead to a wider world. The Internet has become her window to the outside world, running podcasts, Twitter, and even YouTube channels to output her daily life and personal experience. Wait.
During the period, Lucy was also invited as a guest on a TED talk to tell her story. Technology is not only the basic equipment of her life, but also the main window of her life.
▲ Lucy's TED talk
Therefore, she has a relatively special desire to preserve her voice, social media, videos and other content as a digital heritage, so that those in need can read her experience, understand how she fights the disease, how to live, and also hope to give it to her mother. Leave an emotional comfort.
The Wall Street Journal reporter Joanna Stern (Joanna Stern) interviewed Lucy in 2019, trying to find new technology for her to realize her wishes, and made the whole process into a documentary .
▲Joanna Stern. Picture from: Wall Street Journal
If you just save a person's digital life traces, it is obviously not difficult. You can save video and other data, but Lucy and the others want to clearly hope that there will be a way that is easier to check, systematize, and perceive.
With the help of journalist Joanna, they found James Vlahos.
▲James Frajos. Picture from: YouTube
James is the founder of HereAfter AI company, which is dedicated to recording people's voices, voice characteristics, etc., and based on these data to create voice robots under the adjustment of algorithms.
Dadbot is a voice robot created by James using his dead father as a data prototype. He uses his father’s interview records, video chats and other content as basic data. Through the adjustment of AI algorithms, Dadbot can reply to James’ questions, and it is based on his father’s The tone can even comfort James, tell him a story, sing and so on.
▲ James is talking to Dadbot. Image from: YouTube
For James, he has heard most of these contents, but the voice robot can once again show his father's lifestyle and the beautiful moments between him and his father, which is a good emotional comfort for him.
Finally, with the help of James, Lucy successfully digitized her voice information, created a voice robot and implanted it into a smart speaker. After waking up the speaker, Lucy’s mother tried to talk to the speaker and asked how When looking at the mother, the smart speaker answered this question in Lucy’s voice:
Mom is an important part of my life, she is the one who makes me myself…
The performance of the smart speaker surprised and moved Lucy's mother.
Compared with pure video or audio information, this intelligent voice robot is obviously more powerful. It has interactive capabilities, can give feedback to people’s inquiries, can really chat, and the tone similar to real people can also increase immersion. For some people, this is a rare emotional comfort.
Seeing this, you might think that since all voice robots can talk and interact, why not download it to a robot that resembles a real person.
There are people doing this, and the Tyerson Foundation is one of them.
They are exploring digital immortality
The Terasem Movement Foundation (Terasem Movement Foundation) is a company trying to verify whether people’s consciousness and thoughts can be digitized. They try to process human voices, language features, and even memories, and then download them to robots. Can it react like real people?
With the help of volunteers, the Talsi Foundation successfully created a robot named BINA48, which is different from James’ voice robot. BINA48 is the result of long-term data collection, and the amount and types of data are also richer. , Which gives it some character "feedback".
And BINA48 is built according to the appearance of volunteers. It has more than 30 controllers on its face to control the face and have expressions similar to real people. Two cameras are installed on the eyes, corresponding to the location of the conversation partner.
At present, BINA48 can communicate with people. When talking to reporters, BINA48 also expresses nervousness. I don't know if this is related to the identity of its robot.
▲ BINA48 dialogue with the "prototype" characters
Similarly, there is American writer Andrew Kaplan, who participated in Nectome's HereAfter project last year, using AI dialogue technology to save his memories on the Internet, and use intelligent voice assistants such as Google Alexa as an export.
Once the plan is successful, he will become the first person in history to live in the digital world of the Internet.
Speaking of this, do you feel that this is somewhat similar to the story in "Black Mirror". In the second season of "Black Mirror", a similar story is told. In the drama, the wife uses her husband on social networks after her husband died unexpectedly. The information left on the post is downloaded to an AI robot, hoping to "resurrect" her husband in this way.
When human voices and even memories can be uploaded to the Internet and implanted in robots, can digital immortality be realized?
The answer may be no. Technology is the primary problem. BINA48 can only do normal conversations, and occasionally crashes due to bugs. The ability it demonstrates is still a distance from real people, even if it is based on real people’s data. Basic.
The second problem, and the most difficult problem to overcome, is to explore whether digital immortality involves ethical issues. In 2014, Johnny Depp’s science fiction film "Transcendental Hacker" had a scene, when his wife was in Jiangde. After uploading Pu's thoughts to the Internet, although he was very happy at the moment of reunion, he would wonder if it was his husband over time.
After the realization of digital immortality, is the person still the same person before? What impact will it have on the living people? Does digital immortality harm human rights?
This series of questions is extremely difficult to answer.
In the current situation where the technology is not up to standard and there are ethical doubts, the application of these technologies may need to be changed. In the case of AI algorithms, data analysis and even voice and other technologies becoming more and more advanced, we can actually use them to preserve life. Memories, and even as "digital heritage", are left to relatives and friends.
More important than digital immortality is how to deal with digital heritage
Just as Lucy wanted to preserve the traces of her existence and accompany her mother with social media and other data as a digital heritage, under the action of these new technologies, it became possible to preserve the digital heritage and provide some emotional comfort to the living.
Such cases are not uncommon, and it is not impossible to have an emotional bond with robots. Before this, many old people in Japan had feelings for Aibo, the electronic pet dog produced by Sony, and the robot dog became one of their best companions.
We mentioned in the previous report that after a long time with the owner, Aibo can develop their own "personality". They can identify family members through the two cameras on their bodies and collect image and audio data in daily life. , Understand the owner’s preferences and comfort them when the owner is down.
Moreover, the data between Aibo can also be transferred to each other, which means that even if one Aibo is damaged, it can transfer its data to another, which is similar to the current "digital immortality".
Aibo’s owners also care about it very much, they will dress it up and play with it. They already have a close emotional connection, so many people will hold funerals for their Aibo puppies.
In addition to electronic pets, there are also people trying to "resurrect" real people. South Korea's MBC TV station once aired a documentary called " Meet You ", which recorded a technical team using a VR system to help a mother, Jang Zhixing, see herself again Daughter who passed away due to illness.
It is also collecting data such as pictures, sounds and images of her daughter to create a virtual VR image. When Zhang Zhixing saw her daughter again, she couldn't help crying.
After the documentary was broadcast, the audience expressed two completely different opinions. One side believed that this was a secondary injury to her mother Zhang Zhixing. She was already immersed in the grief of losing her daughter, and it was even more difficult for her to move forward in real life.
The other party said that as a mother, she misses her daughter extremely urgently. It is her wish to meet again in the VR world. When technology can do it, why not.
Coincidentally, James, who founded Dadbot, was also asked this question. His answer may be a good answer:
Dadbot is just a tool, an imperfect tool, it just makes me miss my father, not replace my father.
For James, the voice robot is the digital legacy left to him by his father. When people die, where their social media, video, audio and other data should go, whether to open or close, everyone may have different ideas.
For Lucy, these digital contents are an important part of their lives. With the help of technology, these data can be more systematically preserved in a similar way to the real world, just like voice robots.
After their deaths, these digital heritages will accompany their loved ones in a brand new form. As long as both parties can accept them and there are no ethical issues involved, why should we refuse this kind of company.
Compared with digital immortality, the better application direction of current technology should be to deal with people's digital heritage.
The article distribution map is from: Screenshot of the documentary " How Technology Resurrects Our Love " taken by the Wall Street Journal. The title map is from unsplash.
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