The world becomes shocked with the news of a man chatting with his long-passed girlfriend through an AI-powered web application. This used to be a fictional concept, known only from TV series such as the famous Black Mirror. Well, not anymore.
This is where we stop to think – is this the future? If so, where does this AI/ML-powered reviving technology lead us? Where does it put communication and service providers? And what role could the cloud potentially hold?
This concept of “bringing the dead to life” is not new at all
A lot of us are familiar with the concept of being able to connect with your loved ones even when they passed. From very early times, humans have tried to make contact with their friends and families who are no longer here. Seances have been with us since the dawn of time in some form.
So, it shouldn’t really be that surprising that more and more people are turning to technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and the cloud, for help in bringing their loved ones back – even for a day.
How does this work?
Like AI in any other area. The only difference here is that the technology learns about a human and their behavior, instead of about IT systems. Having all the data we have right now, AI could potentially learn all of our behaviors, responses, and unique character features, and mimic them in a conversation – and not only when it comes to sending messages, but also using our real voice, or even “hijacking” our faces.
And it all started with… face filters.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, real reality?
Many of us are using face filters, even when we don’t realize it. Some are just “upgrading” our photos a little bit (the ones that are built-in our phone cameras, whether we know it or not), others are adding some special effects such as full make up, new hair color, different outfits, unusual backgrounds, etc. We are so used to filters, that we often don’t even notice them anymore.
We also don’t realize that behind every filter is AI/ML-driven technology. This technology studies us, and could potentially be used to mimic our behavior.
What’s the cloud got to do with it
Artificial intelligence and machine learning activities couldn’t work on such a large scale if not for the cloud. Photos, videos, conversations, posts, everything we do online – all these data are now stored in the cloud, and can be found in seconds, if needed.
This could lead us to believe that we kind of live in the cloud. Even when we might not be alive on the Earth anymore.
As interesting and bizarre as it sounds, following the words of Yuval Noah Harari in “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow”, striving to live as long as possible (or even forever) is something that humans are desperately trying to achieve. We’ve came so far thanks to modern medicine, so why not go even further?
The concepts of achieving the goal of “forever” are of course very different, depending on the area of expertise of those who are interesting in immortality. For some, the cloud is just another means to this end. Are they right?
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, the cloud and the concept of life
It seems that everything we do and share online is already in the cloud. Does this automatically make us immortal?
On some levels, yes. Most people want to be remembered after they’re gone. We tend to strive to do the amazing things that will ensure we are not forgotten by future generations. The cloud makes this easy. We will be remembered. Maybe not for some wonderful invention that changed society as we know it, but in some way the memory of us will live on.
What’s more, our friends and family will be able to speak to us through AI/ML-powered solutions. New generations that we could have never met before due to our short lifespan, could potentially meet us, and get to know what their ancestors were like.
But that is pretty much it, for now.
Although there are certain groups that believe our consciousness could be uploaded to the cloud so that we as individuals live forever (or at least for as long as the cloud works), this is very unlikely, as far as we know.
Where do communication and digital service providers fit in here
Where does this leave communication and digital service providers? Will telecoms expand their business and deploy services that will allow us to talk to our passed loved ones, or store their memory in some ways? Possibly.
With that in mind, operators will also need to consider the safety of the operation. With this extraordinary opportunity, comes an even greater responsibility. How to make sure that the data are safe? What can be done to prevent customers from getting tricked by impostors?
Ethical and safety concerns are definitely challenges that need to be faced if we want to expand the idea further. The only question is: do we really want to?