Written by Marc Demar
Somnium Space‘s plans for ‘live forever mode’ has made headlines in recent weeks. The likes of Vice, New York Post, The Sun and CNET all dedicated articles to this bold and visionary idea to use AI to simulate people roaming the Metaverse, long after they’re gone. Way before other media covered this feature, Olysounds, multi-talented musician, DJ, writer, NFT creator and Metaverse pioneer, phrased it so beautifully here in the Somnium Times.
Of course, it [AI simulated people in Somnium’s live forever mode] won’t actually be them or their souls- not quite- but it’s predicted that with enough data, collected during anywhere from several years to a lifetime, AI will be able to preserve and regenerate something like photographs of personalities which those of us still living will be able to interact with.Olysounds in Somnium Space “Live Forever Mode”: The Fountain of Youth?
Artur Sychov, founder and CEO of Somnium Space, told VICE:
Literally, if I die—and I have this data collected—people can come or my kids, they can come in, and they can have a conversation with my avatar, with my movements, with my voice.
You will meet the person. And you would maybe for the first 10 minutes while talking to that person, you would not know that it’s actually AI. That’s the goal.Artur Sychov, https://www.vice.com/en/article/pkp47y/metaverse-company-to-offer-immortality-through-live-forever-mode
Is this a realistic scenario? Is it something we at all would want?
One way to look at it is that AI generated personalities is equivalent to photographs of people. Why do we have photographs and why do we frame pictures of our deceased loved ones and look at them every day? Because we want to remember them and photographs help us with that.
Using AI technologies to mimic speech, expression and movement of people can do exactly the same. An AI representation is not the real person, just like a photograph is nothing like the real person, but it is an avatar created in the person’s image. An avatar that moves and talks like the person would. There is no doubt that this could be a great comfort to people left behind.
If you think this sounds absurd, then think back to 1839 when a new means of visual representation was announced to a startled world: photography. It wasn’t widespread to begin with, but we all know what happened next.
While a previous technological breakthrough in an of itself does not guarantee the next, it does help us to understand how adoption generally works. One interesting thing is that people on (very) old photographs hardly smiled. They were accustomed to paintings, and for paintings you had to sit still and be serious. Smiling was for drunk people, for lunatics.
Contrast this with our ‘say cheeeese’ culture.
The point being, we are accustomed to one way of doing things until we get accustomed to something new.
Meeting an AI generated deceased loved one in Somnium Space is a new thing. But we will get used to it and it will be of great comfort.