Tags: Cyber Security | digital | humans | cryonics | andrew kaplan

Report: With Digital Humans, No Need for Ouija Board

a user presses the button of a computer keyboard
(Dominic Lipinski/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 29 August 2019 08:15 PM

Andrew Kaplan might be remembered as one of the world's first "digital humans."

The 78-year-old spy novel and Hollywood script writer has agreed to become "AndyBot," a virtual person who will be immortalized in the cloud, The Washington Post reported.

And if all goes according to plan, future generations will be able to interact with him using mobile devices or voice computing platforms like Amazon's Alexa, asking him questions, eliciting stories and giving advice long after he is gone, the Post reported.

"Being a pioneer at my age is kind of unexpected, but I figured, why the hell not?" he told the Post.

"In the end, every story is about trying to help us find out who we are and where we came from, and this is no different," he added. "This is about history for me, a kind of limited immortality that creates an intimate personal experience for my future relatives who want to know where they came from."

According to the Post, interest in preservation beyond the grave began with the cryonics movement and has intensified in the digital age with a new generation of companies hawking some approximation of virtual immortality, including Eternime and Nectome.

HereAfter is the startup Kaplan chose, eager to become one of the world's first virtual residents, telling the Post the company’s motto — "Never lose someone you love" — is the reason why.

"My parents have been gone for decades, and I still catch myself thinking, 'Gee, I would really like to ask my mom or dad for some advice or just to get some comfort,'" he said. "I don't think the urge ever goes away."

"I have a son in his 30s, and I'm hoping this will be of some value to him and his children someday," he added.

HereAfter was co-founded by Sonia Talati and James Vlahos, who is best known for creating a software program called the Dadbot, which was brought to life after Vlahos learned his father was dying of cancer.

"It took my mom two years to remove the answering-machine message with my dad's voice from their home phone," Vlahos told the Post. "She didn't want to extinguish his voice, and that's something I've heard from other people. But it's almost comical that we're still relying on such a primitive method to hear the voices of our loved ones after they're gone."

Like Netflix or Blue Apron, the company aims to use a subscription model that lets users interact with a relative's bot for a monthly fee. Vlahos said he considers the service an "interactive memoir" and expects it will be especially appealing to customers who want to preserve their parents' history — and essence — before it's too late. 

The company expects to unveil its public app over the next year, the Post reported.

"Audio recordings tend to languish on your hard drive, and when in your daily life do you really have time to sit down and watch eight hours of video recordings from Christmas of '83?" Vlahos told the Post.

"Now imagine being able to stand in the kitchen and call out to your deceased mother and have her answer right back," he said. "There's just something about being able to hear our loved ones' voices."

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Andrew Kaplan might be remembered as one of the world's first "digital humans," as the 78-year-old spy novel and Hollywood script writer has agreed to become "AndyBot," a virtual person who will be immortalized in the cloud, The Washington Post reported.
digital, humans, cryonics, andrew kaplan
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2019-15-29
Thursday, 29 August 2019 08:15 PM
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