Virtual Reality gets all of the buzz and attention but in actuality it’s probably going to be Augmented Reality (digital information overlayed onto the real world) that will wind up affecting our daily lives more. But that’s a story for another day. For today, I want to talk about something else. Something far more interesting than turn by turn directions and Wikipedia entries that pop up in your peripheral version. Allow me to introduce to you Augmented Eternity, a useful albeit somewhat creepy way to communicate with those that we just lost.
Currently being pioneered by Dr. Hossein Rahnana of the M.I.T. Media Lab, Augmented Eternity is a way for us to talk to people from beyond the grave, thanks to the ability of a chat bot to analyze their digital footprint and realistically mimic the nuances of their speech as well as their distinct patterns of thought.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. In addition to letting us speak to our friends and relatives who just recently passed like we saw on an episode of Black Mirror, this technology could also be used to allow us to speak to the luminaries we lost long ago.
Imagine if you will, being able to summon Steve Jobs for tech advice or Albert Einstein for help with a physics question. Eventually we could get to the point where the thoughts and though processes of our best minds and greatest leaders get saved for use by future generations.
Accord to Quartz, “Rahnama’s vision for augmented eternity’s educational application focuses on ‘swappable identities,’ where the same question can be addressed to AI personas with drastically different backgrounds. Being able to directly speak to different primary sources on historical issues could be an invaluable, perspective-enhancing tool for students. ‘The future is about being able to switch your lens and see the world from someone else’s view,’ he says. ‘Issues such as gun control, liberalism, genetic cloning, and legal disputes can all be seen from different political, scientific, academic, and statistical angles.'”
Obviously it’s going to be harder to replicate the personality of someone from a generation ago since we don’t have much in the way of usable data to analyze for them. But modern celebrities with all of their tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and texts would have a treasure trove of information for the AI to cull through.
Suddenly, my 1,000 blog posts don’t seem like such a waste of time anymore. Maybe in the future students will be chatting with me about ideas, inventions, and innovation. In a way, this means that our impact on the world is no longer going to be bound by the constraints of our physical bodies. For some of us, this may mean that we now have a way to live forever.
In the future you may be able to chat with Albert Einstein directly.