Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Digital cloning - mortality awareness, artificial intelligence and the end of the world?

This remarkable human being:

has warned us that artificial intelligence (computer power equal to the human brain) could threaten the survival of homo sapiens. He's a smart bloke and we'd do well to listen and think, though another prof calmed us a bit by saying that it's a 100+ years threat, not an "AI and Ebola too, which to tackle first?" sort of threat.

One aspect of AI which I find immediately worrying is the idea of a computer cloned with a digital facsimile of a person. I think it's worrying not because Apple might include it in their next upgrade, but because of what it tells us about mortality unawareness.

So I'm someone who has lost a partner in mid-life. I set up a digital clone of my beloved. This clone talks to me as he did, answers questions, chats, the whole bit. Maybe the imagery of him is avatar-like, or better.

So instead of mourning my beloved, I spend a lot of my time with "him." Instead of grieving for him, enduring pain, moving onwards, I stick in a digital version of the past. Not, note, my memories, but an updateable mock-up of him. If I meet someone else, after a decent time interval (I'll check with the kids - they'll tell me) what do I do? Ask my cloned beloved if that's OK? Compare digital nonperson with  actual bloke I've met?


I'm avoiding the pain as well as the joy of being human. I'm pretending death doesn't exist. Don't tell me death and life are the same thing, and we need death to be alive. I'll stay enmeshed with my dead person, who can now talk to me, offer comfort, be soothing and.....

What a horrible temptation for a grief-stricken person.

 But my dead dear one belongs here:

and in my heart. Not here:


(Or is it just me?)

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