Can you become ‘virtually immortal’? A Silicon Valley start-up thinks so | Dave Schilling

A company called Eternime hopes digital versions of our personalities will be able to communicate through chatbots from the grave. But we cant cheat death

Become virtually immortal. That is one of the slogans found on the hauntingly cheerful website for Eternime a startup firm aiming to let you store your memories and your personality in digital form past your physical expiration date (also known as death). They hope to feed the data into chatbots that will allow us to speak to the dead. This is illustrated through a shoddy photoshop of a bearded mans head floating inside a laptop. Its a bit like Jambi, the bodyless genie in the box from Pee Wees Playhouse. Enjoy having a chat with that, if you can.

The website goes on to describe the service as a library that has people instead of books, which truly does add new meaning to the phrase Im checking you out, doesnt it? Crack open your MacBook, and hey, theres your old pal Odd George from the bar around the corner. Hes been saved in exacting digital detail for you to enjoy, while his actual body gets chewed up by insects.

Will a service like this ever exist? Who knows. But people become intrigued by these ideas. What companies like Eternime understand is that few of us ever get sick of hearing about how technology is going to change our conception of human existence. Elon Musk isnt just famous because he builds cars rich people queue up to buy in droves. Hes also famous because he pops up in the news every few months with a new tantalizing scheme: the Hyperloop, benign artificial intelligence, privately funded space exploration. Each and every time he reveals a new seemingly implausible or absurd project, we eat it up because hes confident and wealthy enough that he might pull it off.

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