Latest Base Holograms News
Dec 2, 2020
Getty Images for BASE Holograms Ernest Hemingway said “We have two deaths, when we are buried in the ground and the last time someone says our name.” He was referring to the idea of memory death. The point at which the world no longer holds any recollection of your existence. Like a drop of sweat evaporating off of the cheek of the cosmos, evanescent, as if you never existed at all. The overwhelming profundity of absolute erasure has enthralled philosophers and motivated the good, the great and the desperate for millennia. For many, the fear of being forgotten far outweighs the fear of the void. It has inspired religion and tradition the world over. We remember our long dead antecedents not for their benefit but for ours, so that we can die, safe in the knowledge that we too will be remembered, our presence here acknowledged by history. But the nature of memory has changed. For most of human existence memory was a living thing, contained, principally, within the neurology of the extant (the one exception being the written word). Technology changed that. The late 19th century saw the invention of devices that could record audio. Later came the capacity to record light. More recently computers have facilitated the recording of immense amounts of media-agnostic information. Memory can now be stored, duplicated and transferred on inanimate software architecture. Companies like GoneNotGone , Mywishes , Afternote have all capitalised on this by creating digital vaults that allow people to leave messages and gifts for children, grandchildren or even great grandchildren. Few aspects of our humanity have been altered so fundamentally by technology. We carry devices that record our conversations, letters, relationships, predilections, tendencies, affectations, biases, secrets, photographs, videos and store them in a network designed to preserve them. The average person leaves behind more memory in death than all of the most prolific writers of the 19th century combined. Technology has emphatically solved one of life’s great existential terrors, the fear of having never existed. This great lake of human experience now provides a foundation to tackle death itself. Digital reanimation, the ability to resuscitate the personality of those who have passed through data science, neuro linguistic programming and neural networks is on our immediate horizon. Projects like Eternime, Replika and LivesOn (the latter founded by creative agency Lean Fighting Machine in partnership with Queen Mary University), are just some of the companies working on digital ghosts. Reanimation works by mining the emails, texts, videos, photos and audio recordings of people who have died in order to reconstruct them as avatars. This could be used to resurrect a parent, partner or child, to bring back friend or foe. MORE FOR YOU This is a contentious topic for many. There is something unsettling, even iniquitous, about interrupting the permanence of death. Something forlorn about the dedication of sentiment to something inanimate, even pernicious as something dead masquerades as living, a zombie chimera. But despite the discomfort there are many reasons why this technology is likely inevitable and can be positive. Grief Loss is a fundament of human existence. If we live long enough, we will lose those close to us. It is a rare thing that that loss will occur in a planned or expected way. For most of us, that person will be here one moment and gone the next. No "goodbye". No "I love you". No "I'm sorry". Technology can now provide solutions that can both expedite the grieving process and even alleviate some of the pain of loss. Earlier this year, a South Korean documentary showcased how virtual reality tech could be used to reunite a mother with her daughter who died of a blood disease at age 7 (Caution: upsetting). Additionally, Replika was originally developed as an AI bot which allowed a grieving entrepreneur to continue to interact with her dead friend. Independence Many people find themselves pressured into nursing homes in older age, particularly after the death of a spouse. It becomes clear that living on their own isn’t safe and it’s often not feasible for their children to look after them. But what if their spouse could be reanimated as a digital assistant to keep them company during the day, warn them that a door is locked or a window is open, remind them to take their medication and alert neighbours, family and emergency services if they have an accident. Suddenly, independent living becomes feasible. Education What if Einstein could be your physics tutor, Mozart your music teacher or Maya Angelou your poetry teacher. Revive past masters to revolutionise learning. Every student could subscribe to teachers that they relate to creating an entirely personalised learning experience. Reanimation in this way allows for the possibility of posthumous brand IP that could generate income for your family or for causes you support long after you're gone. Einstein could be your physics tutor. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) Getty Images Bina 48 by Terasem is a project that has already created thousands of highly detailed "mind clones" to log the memories, values and attitudes of specific people. Using this data, scientists created one of the world's most socially advanced robots, a replica of the wife of Terasem Movement founder Martine Rothblatt, called Bina48 . It currently sells for roughly $150,000. And in a scene straight from Black Mirror, Swedish scientists are partnering with funeral homes to create robotic replicas of deceased people. Testimony In the future it may even be possible to ask these ghosts to posthumously testify to events or even someone's character. With sufficient data the AI can personalise the responses in the closest possible approximation to the actual person’s likely answer. There are many legitimate concerns with this technology and the way it is likely to be used but the combination of demand, feasibility and opportunity make it inevitable. There will be questions about who owns the intellectual property and trade mark rights to historical figures. There will be concerns that its affordability will create a class of people who die...and a class of people who don’t, undermining death as society’s great leveller. There will be security and abuse concerns. They will be used to defame the dead or to leverage them as icons against their wishes. There will be changes to the traditions and culture of grief but ultimately our desire to not be forgotten will be too powerful to mitigate and reanimation will become normalised. We will all participate, destined to haunt this world forever as digital ghosts. Thank you to @aurore_ge for her research assistance on this article.