You may familiar with the term "ghosting" as it refers to the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. It is often used in social media contexts.I have written earlier about people ghosting jobs and colleges and also about professional ghosting. This post is about ghosts that may be closer to the supernatural type.
An episode at wsj.com/podcasts on ghosts created using artificial intelligence (AI) are digital personas. The podcast suggests that creating these personas could be a kind of "immortality." Perhaps someday you might have the opportunity to have yourself recreated via AI but there is also the idea of creating people from the past. The podcast asks, "What if Abraham Lincoln could address Congress today? Or if you could have dinner with your deceased ancestors?"
There is interest in doing this from researchers and also from entrepreneurs. Is this an AI-enhanced sophisticated version of something like the hologram of Tupac that performed at Coachella a few years? That is not the ultimate vision for this technology. Researchers are looking to go beyond chatbots and animatronic robots.
It would be done using all the data that a person creates or unconsciously generates: social media posts, emails, texts, voice and video recordings. You have also probably seen examples of actors (alive or dead) being inserted into new films using a combination of previously shot footage and new footage created using existing data and some AI magic.
One startup working on this that was referenced is HereAfter AI. They are not creating "ghosts," holograms, robots or something that looks like your grandfather sitting across from you. What they are doing is taking what data they can get from a life story and using it to make a replica of that person that's embedded in a smart speaker. It means you can have a "conversation" with that person using a smart speaker. Microsoft has patented a conversational chatbot that uses some of the aforementioned data sources. from things, like social media and other things to create a chatbot that could converse and talk in the personality of some specific person.
Of course, this is not the sci-fi AI ghost that you might be imagining. That version is not in the near future. That AI Abe Lincoln is not going to be able to be a great modern-day President. An AI Albert Einstein isn't going to be able to finally come up with a unified field theory. With historical figures, we are often lacking video, audio and certainly social media and we would have to rely on text. Having an AI ghost of me even with all of my digital footprints doesn't feel like immortality to me.
But don't get caught unprepared. Start curating your digital persona now.
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