Dr. Pratik Desai, a computer scientist and founder of Silicon Valley AI startups, is encouraging people to record their elderly parents and loved ones, as he predicts that consciousness could be uploaded onto a computer as early as this year.
Desai, who has developed his own system similar to ChatGPT, believes that with enough video and voice recordings, there is a “100 percent chance” of having loved ones “living with you forever.” He shared his prediction on Twitter, stating that this advancement could be possible by the end of the year.
The rapid progress in AI, led by ChatGPT, is widely viewed by many scientists as a potential catalyst for a new era of technological advancement. Nevertheless, opinions among the world’s foremost thinkers remain divided.
While Elon Musk and over 1,000 tech leaders are advocating for caution, warning about the potential dangers of AI and its impact on humanity, there are other experts, such as Bill Gates, who hold a more optimistic view.
They believe that AI has the potential to enhance our lives and even enable us to achieve immortality. The debate surrounding AI’s potential benefits and risks continues to captivate the intellectual community, with differing perspectives and opinions shaping the discourse.
Desai shares Bill Gates’ perspective and believes that it is possible to recreate deceased loved ones as avatars living in a computer. The process involves digitizing various forms of data, such as videos, voice recordings, documents, and photos of the person, which are then fed into an AI system that learns everything about the individual. Using this data, users can design a specific avatar that closely resembles and acts like their deceased relative.
Advancements in AI, exemplified by ChatGPT, have spurred the progress of companies like Live Forever, which is working on creating virtual humans. Live Forever’s project involves creating a VR robot with the same speech and mannerisms as the person it aims to replicate. Artur Sychov, the founder of Live Forever, stated in a 2022 interview with Motherboard that he initially predicted the technology to be available in five years, but due to recent advancements in AI, he believes it will be a shorter timeframe.
Another AI company, DeepBrain AI, has also developed a service called Rememory, which uses photos, videos, and a seven-hour interview of the person while they were still alive, to create an AI-powered virtual person. This virtual person is designed using deep learning technologies to capture the individual’s appearance and voice, and is displayed on a large screen.
In 2020, a Korean television show called “Meeting You” used virtual reality to reunite a mother with her deceased seven-year-old daughter, Nayeon, who had passed away in 2016. Through the show, the mother and daughter could touch, play, and hold conversations, providing comfort as the little girl reassured her mother that she was no longer in pain.
Jang Ji-sung, the mother of Nayeon, was overcome with emotion as she put on the Vive virtual reality (VR) headset and found herself in a beautiful garden, where her daughter stood before her, smiling in a bright purple dress. “Oh my pretty, I have missed you,” the mother whispered, her hand reaching out to stroke the digital replica of her deceased daughter.
Desai did not provide many details about his idea of the technology, but he is not the only one fascinated by the concept of recreating deceased loved ones using AI. Renowned former Google Engineer Ray Kurzweil has also been working on a digital afterlife, with the specific goal of resurrecting his father. Kurzweil, now 75 years old, lost his father when he was just 22, and he dreams of one day being able to have conversations with him again, with the help of a computer.
“I will be able to talk to this re-creation,” Kurzweil said in a 2012 interview with BBC. “Ultimately, it will be so realistic it will be like talking to my father.” He explained that he has been meticulously digitizing hundreds of boxes of documents, recordings, movies, and photographs of his father as a way to express all of the information he has about him. His vision is to create an avatar that an AI would generate, using the data available, including possibly his father’s DNA, to make the replica as close to his father as possible.
Kurzweil envisions that his digital father would undergo a Turing Test, which is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. “If an entity passes the Turing test, let alone a specific person, that person is conscious,” Kurzweil said, highlighting his belief that such technology could create a form of digital consciousness.
In addition to his pursuit of recreating deceased loved ones, Kurzweil has also made predictions about other advancements in technology. He believes that humans will achieve immortality within the next eight years, thanks to breakthroughs in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. Kurzweil predicts the development of age-reversing “nanobots” that will repair damaged cells and tissues in the body, making us immune to diseases like cancer.
Kurzweil’s expertise in predicting technological advances dates back to the 1990s. He accurately predicted that the world’s best chess player would lose to a computer by the year 2000, which came true in 1997 when Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasparov.
He also made another bold prediction in 1999, stating that by 2023, a $1,000 laptop would have the computing power and storage capacity equivalent to a human brain. As we approach 2023, the realization of Kurzweil’s prediction looms on the horizon, sparking both excitement and speculation about the future of technology and its potential impact on humanity.
He envisions a future where machines are integrated into our brains, enhancing our cognitive abilities and making us smarter. Despite some concerns, Kurzweil believes that this technological advancement will actually improve humanity.
‘We’re going to get more neocortex, we’re going to be funnier, we’re going to be better at music. We’re going to be sexier’ he said.
‘We’re really going to exemplify all the things that we value in humans to a greater degree.’
Kurzweil’s vision is not one where machines dominate humans, but rather a synthesis of human and machine that results in a better version of ourselves. This idea challenges the notion of machines taking over humanity.
The concept of nanomachines being implanted into the human body has been a staple of science fiction for years. However, Kurzweil believes that this future is not far-fetched, and we may see it become a reality in the near future.