“Hello, are you there Dad?” Dadbots, Mindfiles, and Avatars
A recent tech story that illustrates the idea of using today’s digital tools to pay “yourself forward” to future generations, caught my eye this week.
The news article was Wired Magazine’s article “How a Son Made a Chatbot of His Dying Dad.. James Vlahos’ father was dying, so he set out to save his dad’s memories and code them into a ‘Dadbot’ that lives on his phone.” The motivation to stay connected via a “soulful” chat using the technology of chatbot software, I thought was both innovative and touching. Now that online tools like chatbots are becoming more accessible we may see the emergence of new ways of staying connected with the people we care about.
Since 2006, here at the Lifenaut project, we’ve been offering participants in our “mind uploading experiment” the opportunity to create “Mindfiles” and “Avatar chatbots” that can preserve your “essential mental characteristics” for the future. Even after spending only a few days of creating and training your photo based Lifenaut avatar, you can start to see a digital representative that can give future family and friends access to a collection of your “Bemes” (think personal “memes”) which are made up of the patterns of information contained in your “memories, values, attitudes, mannerisms and behavior”. I can imagine a day when it will be quite ordinary to put as much effort into creating an interactive avatar/chatbot that can represent you long after your “biology” as passed with future branches of your family tree. In fact a new meme may emerge that “Its never to late to start backing yourself up” and there maybe both short term and long term benefits to be enjoyed by those of us who are curious about using today’s tech to stay in touch with the future.